Chapter four - Kindness
Part one - the expression of awareness of inherent worth and dignity.
What is the measure of a person: money, power, status, adulation? The bumper sticker says, “The person with the most toys wins.” We laugh embarrassingly because there is a kernel of recognition in our having played this game of the ego. It is one thing to play this game as a child and even as an adolescent but not as a mature adult.
Some people may have tried to teach us that money can’t buy us love, and the key to friendship is not in taking but in giving, and the good life is characterized by kindness not by competitiveness and selfishness.
Doing harm intentionally is impossible for a person who practices kindness. A person who has perfected the skill of kindness can neither harm nor be harmed. The kind person does not function in the space where harm is done.
Harm comes from judgment and judgment comes from dishonesty and dishonesty comes from a lack of genuine faith. Judgment is a verdict of guilt upon a brother or sister, a guilt which is not part of their inherent worth and dignity. If we judge another guilty we have, at the same time, judged ourselves guilty by passing the judgment of guilt on a brother and sister of inherent worth and dignity. We have missed our opportunity to exercise kindness.
Kindness is not the same thing as being nice. Being nice is often being false, pretending things are okay when they are not. Kindness is truth telling not with the intention of punishment but with the intention of accountability and joining which is born from honesty..
Judgment and harm interferes with peace and learning. We have chosen the path of the ego which plays the games of “one or the other” and “give to get.” Playing these games is never kind.
The first step in the development of the virtue of kindness is the nonjudgmental attitude and the second step is to look for and focus on the inherent worth and dignity of every person we meet.