We are Called to be Kind

Two of the most dominant attitudes and actions in our society today are anger and hostility. We could use much more kindness and gentleness. We have a choice of which of those we want to characterize our lives. The challenge is that expressing anger and hostility seems to arise much more naturally but showing kindness and gentleness requires us to be intentional.

In 2015 there was a heartwarming news article that went viral about some Target store employees showing kindness to a young man. The employees took the time to help a young man who came into the store to get a clip-on tie before going to a job interview. The store does not carry clip on ties, so the young man bought a regular tie and the employees assisted him with tying it and gave him some coaching on how to handle the interview. A customer in the store saw what was happening, took a photo, and posted it online. The customer who took the photo commented, “It was a very quiet, simple moment, but it was very profound honestly [sic] kindness . . .  from strangers . . . in a Super Target.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if stories of kindness were so commonplace that such incidents would be more the norm than the exception? Unfortunately, the heartwarming stories are not the ones that make most of the news.

Henri Nouwen observed, “Kindness is a beautiful human attribute. When we say, ‘She is a kind person’ or ‘He surely was kind to me,’ we express a very warm feeling. In our competitive and often violent world, kindness is not the most frequent response.”

While the news may not carry the stories of kindness, we should all strive to be kind to each other regardless of gender, race, color, nationality, sexual orientation, economic status, religion or political views.

Nouwen continued: “Here is the great challenge: All people, whatever their color, religion, or sex, belong to humankind and are called to be kind to one another, treating one another as brothers and sisters. There is hardly a day in our lives in which we are not called to this.”

Being kind is a far healthier way to live. A positive mindset is needed to be kind and to see value in others regardless of who they are. People who are kind to others are usually kind to themselves first. And this is what Jesus admonished us to do when He said to love our neighbors as ourselves.

We may not agree with another person’s position on any given topic, but that does not mean we cannot and should not be kind to them.

Being kind to another means showing respect; rather than being mean or judgmental we are gracious and kind in their presence and absence. We can disagree and still be kind.

Being kind to others requires intentionality because our natural human tendency is to be selfish, which usually leads to meanness. We must choose to respond not merely on emotions but in ways that are intentionally kind.

Some may think that kindness is weakness. In reality, mean behavior is weakness because it requires no effort. On the other hand, kindness requires strength of the will and our emotions. As a bonus, the rewards for being kind are far better than the consequences of being mean!

How about we take up the challenge to make this week Kindness Week, choosing to be kind to everyone we encounter. Let’s be kind to others even if (especially if!) we disagree with their positions or dislike their attitudes.

Who knows: our kindness may go viral!

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