My grandfather was one of the kindest people I have ever known. You could see kindness in the crinkling around his eyes and in the sadness of his smile. He was very unassuming and he had great gentility of spirit.
Maybe kindness is a special gene that only some people are blessed with. Not everyone, mind you because kindness per se – as a personality feature – is hard to find.
How do you explain kindness? It’s strangely hard to describe. And no, it isn’t merely philanthropy. Some philanthropists can be miserable buzzards who only give in order to enhance the image of their corporations.
No, kindness is something else. It’s an innate gentleness. You can see it in a gentle smile in a quiet, helping hand and in a modest absenting of the self.
My grandfather was all these things and more. It was an innate quality that he had and one can only hope that he passed this gene onto one or two of his descendants.
These days however, the word “kindness” has largely fallen into disuse. Mysteriously it has all but disappeared from our everyday vocabulary.
My point is – have you used the word recently – in the last year – or maybe two? When did you last hear anyone refer to a teacher, a doctor, or a political leader as kind?
I can tell you why.
Because it doesn’t feature any more. Kindness has no significance in the business of our lives. It’s a commodity that we have learnt to do without.
Nevertheless, it is something that I remember with clarity. Maybe as a child I understood how precious and rare it was; because I remember seeing it so clearly in my grandfather’s slightly sad smile.