Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kinder



...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5

I have just discovered that George Saunders delivered the convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013, and rather than an exhortation to achieve and change the world it was a humorous and yet very serious invitation to be kind. Saunders is funny about some of the incidents of his life which he might regret, but doesn't really. Then he goes on to say:

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet. It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
 
So let me just say this. There are ways. You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter. Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend; establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition — recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.Because kindness, it turns out, is hard — it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include . . . well, everything.

I have been blessed by kindness throughout my life and I know it is a spiritual gift which is often undervalued but as essential as food and water in order to flourish. Witnessing simple acts of kindness, often in Christ's name, can bring me to tears. I will endeavour to be a kinder person, God being my helper. If we all do, we will change the world.

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