“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” (Samuel Johnson); as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today.
One could say that cordialness is in our power, even if friendship is not. The point is that we make the choice of how to react and interact with others, even those with whom we disagree or who don’t make liking them easy. In this season of heightened political passions it is particularly hard sometimes to be kind or cordial with someone who may be proclaiming the political opposite of what you believe.
Unfortunately in life and is politics we have become a more polarized society, with little opportunity for intelligent conversation about the middle ground or compromise. Discussing topics like gun control, birth control and the GLBT lifestyle have devolved from conversations into rants and arguments. We are forced into taking side in discussions where the only alternatives are “you’re either with us or against us.” We are not allowed to have a middle-ground point of view or to espouse a solution that involves compromise by both sides. Even the word compromise is now used as a litmus test against others in some political circles and has become associated with weakness or betrayal of strongly held beliefs.
Jack went on to write – Some people are really hard to get along with. To “love” does not necessarily mean to be “fond.” Kindness is what Jesus had in mind when he talked about love…trying to see with a different set of eyes. Are you able to do it?
Kindness is not pity. Kindness is not false. Kindness is the conscious attempt to understand the other person’s point of view without prejudging it. Much of what others
may proclaim with loud bluster is actually masking deep fears and insecurities. Many prejudices are rooted in the same insecurities and fears. We tend to fear what we do not understand, rather than make the effort to see things from that different point of view.
We need not try to force ourselves to like the choices or lifestyles that people we meet may have embraced; but, we need not fear them either. We also don’t have to embrace their point of view; just be kind and accept them for who they are. Once you can do that, you may even find them to be someone who you could be fond of. At the least you will no longer have to be afraid of them or prejudiced against them.
I have found that refusing to rise to the bait of a pushy or bully type person or stopping myself from jumping immediately to a conclusion about a person, based solely upon the initial visual impression that they make, helps me. It is that initial pause from making some immediate judgement that allows that ability to be kind to kick in. It’s not always easy; because I carry around the weight of a lifetime of fears and prejudices, as we all do. It takes a conscience effort and I am not always successful; but I have found that the rewards from making that effort far outweigh the alternatives, which almost always lead to regrets later. Making a new friend is much better than adding a new fear or enemy in life.
Try to be kind today and see if it makes a difference in your life. Maybe you’ll end the day with a new friend, too.