One of the kindest persons I’ve known didn’t try to be so. She just was.
Hers was a kindness that exemplifies the word – gentle, instinctive, unconditional, loving care. It wasn’t change-the-world kindness, it wasn’t uplift-entire-villages-from-poverty kindness, but instead the simple kindness that makes life … nicer. The sort of kindness that you think is ordinary and easy to find, until you realise that it really isn’t.
The sort of kindness where you make someone a chilled drink on a summer’s afternoon without waiting to ask them if they’d want one. The sort of kindness that offers thanks to a delivery person, however surly they may be. The sort of kindness where you spend two minutes actually talking to the security guard or postman or rubbish collectors (and not in a oh-look-I’ve-deigned-to-acknowledge-you-have-a-life way, but because it was what you do with anybody). The sort of kindness that initiates phone calls offering unconditional help to people in need, even though those people haven’t bothered to keep in touch for years (and knowing they won’t after this either), and doing so without thinking this would be the ideal opportunity to shame those people about their indifference. The sort of kindness that will not brush off the obvious con artist who accosts them with a sob story on the road, but will hear them and offer them options, if not direct help – while gently letting them know that you know. The sort of kindness that doesn’t get vitiated, however horrible people and life have been to them.
Kindness doesn’t have the delusions of grandeur that goodness has. Kindness doesn’t ask you to be a saint. Kindness doesn’t burden you with unattainable moral goals, and then just-slightly shake its head in disappointment when you inevitably fail. Kindness doesn’t care if people think you’re a sap, a soft touch, a gullible target for any sob story. Kindness just gets on with the job, knowing that every little improvement makes the world that much more bearable.
We learnt a lot about kindness from simply observing her and being around her. And the most important lesson we learnt was –
Be kind. However you can. However little you can. However much you can. Whenever you can. And whenever you can’t.
Because there isn’t enough kindness in this world. And who knows, one day all that kindness may stop people hating themselves, each other, and the world.