Rochester, Jane looks at a picture of her father and says, “how young he looks, and how kind.” St. John says, “he was kind. You were very much loved.” What would it take for “how kind you are” to be a common compliment passed between us to change confrontations into loving encounters.
Kindness can be extended and felt in simple situations, like a motorist giving way to other driver, or simply holding a door open for someone. Act One Scene 3 of, A Street Car Named Desire, ends with Stanley screaming STEEELLA. After that outburst Mitch, Stanley’s boss, comforts Blanch trys to recover from viewing the violence between Stanley and Stella. Mitch quietly shares a cigarette with her. After a short pause Blanch says, “There’s so much confusion in the world. Thank you for being so kind. I need kindness now.”
We all need kindness in every now of our passing moments. As in that scene from “Streetcar,” a simple act of kindness can be passed on in an uncomplicated manner.
I received a lesson in kindness from a K-Mart cashier after my frustrating search for plastic wine glasses so my wife and I could better enjoy some wine in our Motel, (you know about those plastic wrapped flimsy drinking vessels). I handed the glasses to the cashier and he told me they had no bar code so he couldn’t ring them up. I insisted that they were the last two on the shelf. I grumped, accosted one of the two women on the service desk, and got her to walk back to the shelf with me so I could prove that I had taken the last two glasses. To my chagrin there were at least a dozen on the shelf.
I apologized to her and then to the cashier for my unkindness. Ironically, he was working with another customer, a diminutive Latino mom, who was trying to pay for a product with a damaged bar code. He smiled, said “It’s OK,” and went to find a product for her with a scan-able label. Meanwhile the small Latino Mother taught me how to be patient. When I finally left the store I asked myself, “How does he do it; stand there hour after hour and deal with grumpy old men like me and keep his composure?” I doubt he knows about A Course in Miracles. What does that say for me?
It tells me to be aware of my impatience, but honestly, I rarely display it in public. I would rather follow George Elliot’s heroine Dorthea’s example as Elliot summarizes her character to conclude, Middlemarch.
Her finely-touched spirit had still its fair issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name in the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffused: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistorical acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
Dorthea is the quintessential example of living kindly. Elliot framed her within a story replete with human foibles to make her nature glaringly different from those with whom she lived, especially hypocrites who flaunted religion. I deem the K-Mart cashier’s kindness an “unhistorical act” from a “faithfully hidden life.”
One way to describe kindness is, “a touch of heaven,” to extend to everyone we meet.
We find these lines in workbook Lesson 67; a metaphor in which, holiness, kindness, helpfulness and Perfection refer to God.
Holiness created me holy.
Kindness created me kind.
Helpfulness created me helpful.
Perfection created me perfect.
Now we are in the midst of a combative election which sways us towards being unkind. Whatever the cost, we want our candidate to “strike a blow” and humiliate their opponent.
I asked at the beginning of this post, “What would it take for, “how kind you are” to be a common compliment passed on to our fellow humans.
Simply follow Greek philosopher Philo’s time tested advice.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is doing a hard battle.”