January 28, 2022

The over-use of the word kindness

By Yasmine Hammad
My personal view about the topic of kindness

KINDNESS – a word that is being heavily used like “confetti’ on social media over the past years.  Asking young children and adults alike to “be kind”.  Why do I undeniably find some nuisance with that phrase? I wonder if people actually become kind when asked - or demanded - to be kind. Before we jump into conclusions, it’s always great to remind people of the great values of being kind, and the fact that it is all in the approach.

According to Meriam Webster’s Dictionary, the word kindness is a noun, meaning the ‘quality or state of being kind’. Now the definition doesn’t specify what type of kindness and who it's directed to.  The examples are usually given towards another human, for example “she showed me great kindness today”.  

From the book “On Kindness” by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor, they mention that kindness comes from what Freud called – in a different context – “after-education”, that is, a revived awareness of something that is already felt and known. This "after education" entails the recognition of kindness as a continual temptations in everyday life that we resist… to see kindness as being in solidarity with human need, and with the very paradoxical sense of powerlessness and power that human need induces.  

From where I stand today, and after extensive research on the subject, I am here to tell you that kindness is an inner game that when perfected, can manifest outwards to everything around you beautifully.

Where does kindness come from? Is it in our nature? Or is it nurtured? Humans are altruistically kind by nature.  Whether they behave kindly or not, is nurtured and shaped by their environment.  Dr. Darcia F. Narvaez said that when it comes to kindness, “Nature and nurture are not in opposition. To the contrary, they work together--constantly.” Also, the awareness of emotional expression in humans, allows them to act and show kindness to other living things.

For me kindness is shown in the way…

  • we speak to ourselves.
  • we observe and not judge another human being.
  • we see an animal on the street.
  • we speak and treat others.
  • we care for plants.
  • we look at the world and perceive our daily lives.
  • we connect with Earth and every living being.

Kindness is in the actions, thoughts and hearts of each one of us.  We were born with altruistic roots for being kind.

Answering my main question, does asking another person to ‘Be Kind” work? Maybe, it helps them realise that their actions weren’t kind enough and will help them improvise.  But on the greater scale of things, it’s really not helpful. If anything, it is kind of provocative to ask someone to be kind. It indicates that his instincts were at fault and that ‘overall” they are not nice or kind humans.  And again, who are we to judge.

How about if we kindfully remind them that their behaviour/words could be hurtful and that choosing differently could be helpful to everyone?  Wouldn’t it be kind of us to take the time to explain to another human the importance of wholehearted kindness instead of demanding kindness?

Humans are conduits of kindness throughout the cultural pain and the uncertainty in life; we truly are.  We just need the right amount of guidance, role modeling and collective compassion to activate the kindness pathways in our brains.

The one thing that comes to mind, is that humans, animals and nature are craving kindness. Mother Earth is in dire need of kindness now and always. And kindness honors the way we are all inter-weaved together.

Please share your thoughts with me about what kindness is to you in the comments section below.