Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On Kindness

MomVee, in a recent and lovely post, reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:
Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.

- Henry James

The last few years have made me feel even greater respect for the necessity and value of kindness.

I posted previously about forgiveness and lines carved in stone. When someone asks for forgiveness, you give it. That seems the right and kind thing to do. But sometimes, it isn't right. And sometimes being kind only opens the door to something that has been proven repeatedly to be damaging.

On days like today (when I hear from a particularly persistent and unwelcome stalker) I struggle with finding the right balance and I ask myself if I am being too hard and maybe even unkind. Doesn't forgiveness have greater value when it is undeserved? Doesn't kindness mean much much more when it is difficult to give? And isn't that exactly when kindness is most necessary?

But then I remember that it's just as important to be kind to oneself.

At least, that's what I am telling myself and I'd really like to think that Henry James would agree.

No comments: