Posted by: ritagone | April 17, 2013

Kindness

random-acts-of-kindness

Writer Alison Simpson wrote: “We are frail creatures.  Most of us need constant reassurance to nurture our shreds of faith.”

And author Sonya Semmens wrote: “…random kindness is transient and skittish.  Much more powerful are routine acts of kindness: the everyday kindness that’s not a hit on You Tube, and doesn’t have an audience.”

In the world we live in, where we seem to see and hear about more and more acts of brutality and evil perpetrated against one another all the time, I believe routine kindness actually can and must change lives.

There’s a fantastic true story I recently discovered about a gregarious young store owner called Israel Rubinek.  In 1941, a poor Polish farmwoman travelled miles from her home to Rubinek’s little village store.  She didn’t have enough money to pay for the food and kerosene she needed, so Rubinek told Zofia Banya not to worry.  She could pay him later.  Two years later, when Jews were being executed, Zofia remembered Rubinek’s kindness.  She sent word through a friend, offering to shelter Rubinek and his young wife.  They hid with her for two and a half years, and therefore survived the war.

One small act of kindness bred another.  Two lives, and many generations, were saved.

If we could live by this mantra: be kind, be kinder than you thought you could be, be kinder than you ever expected you would be, how much richer would our lives be? And how much richer would the lives of others be?  I don’t think we deliberately set up for ourselves “kind” standards.  We just think “I’ll be kind today,” without any measurable metrics, and then we never know if we’ve measured up.  And usually we don’t.  We fail miserably.  Or at least, I do.

In the absence of the specific, it’s easy to say you’ll do something, like being kind or being faithful or being diligent.  I got into an interesting discussion with some girlfriends recently.  I was admitting honestly that if persecution for being a follower of Jesus were to come, I had no idealistic illusions about myself.  Given the first move toward fingernail extraction by my persecutors, I would scream bloody murder and give up my husband, my children, my grandchildren, and anyone else whose turning in might save my own skin.  I know that about myself.  I don’t like it, but there it is: the truth about me.  The friends surrounding me in this discussion, who love me, argued that I wouldn’t.  They thought that I would rise to the occasion.  That God would give me the strength needed to do the right thing.  But all I could think about later was this: when I think about getting up an hour earlier to pray, I don’t do it because I’m too lazy.  God doesn’t seem to give me the strength to do it.  He leaves it up to me.  And I fail…because I make a decision that is selfish and not spiritual in any sense of the word.  Why, then, facing torture, would I be so much more able to carry out that than I am rising early for prayer?  Not a chance!  I know myself.  I know what I am and am not capable of.

But I do know that kindnesses expressed in a visible, touchable, concrete way is something I am capable of.  I’m not going to worry about torture in the future, because right now I think the important thing is to be concerned with the many places and situations where I can exhibit the kindness of Jesus to those around me.  And this is something I am going to deliberately choose to do.  I get so caught up sometimes with the ethereal and the “what if’s” that I forget about that which I can actually DO, behavior which I know I can carry out if I just commit to doing it when I get out of bed in the morning and start my day with a firm resolution to do so.

Last week I happened to be in London with my friend Monique Reidy on the very day Margaret Thatcher, the controversial Prime Minister, passed away at age 87.  For the next few days, until we left two days later, in fact, the media was filled with scathing diatribes about Baroness Thatcher and how despised she was by certain politicians and people.  On and on they went, literally tearing her to shreds.  Had her body been available for public defamation, I shudder to think what might have happened.  It would not have been pretty.

It was, in fact, the opposite of kindness.  Never mind that she has children and grandchildren who are mourning her death.  Never mind that there are indeed countless millions around the world and in her own country who very much regard her as a hero, not just for becoming the first – and only – female Prime Minister of Great Britain, but for what they believe were her strong political actions that saved the country from more severe disaster.

This wasn’t political.

This was savagery.  This was ugly.  And it was completely unnecessary.  It was inappropriate that a woman – not a politician, not a Prime Minister, but a human being – had died, and there were those so unkind that they couldn’t let her rest in peace.

Kindness is something that I believe will go against the grain of our world more and more as deeds and words that are hurtful and cruel become the norm.  It will take deliberation and commitment to be kind, to be gentle, to be thoughtful.  As Jesus was.

And as He asked us – His followers – to be.

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Responses

  1. Great post Rita. I felt the same thing you guys felt about Thatcher about Rick Warren’s son. Sub-human comments on the net about a real person who lost his son. Kindness and civility are losing their footing in our land. Sad. Fortunate for me, I have felt supreme kindness from the Warren’s.

  2. This is a great reflection, Rita. Thank you. It is a challenge to me also, about the challenge of living in a kind and gracious manner in an increasing way. I would love to live that way, and have a long way to go.
    Blessings and shalom on you and Michael.


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