Kindness in today’s world

By Shayna Rodeman

rodemansh@mnstate.edu

Too often in today’s society, it is easy to dismiss or avoid kindness because it is misconceived. It is no longer possible to be nice to people just because you want to show them kindness. There is always an ulterior motive for kindness. If you want to pursue or maintain a relationship with someone, it is assumed you want something from them.

It is possible kindness is even seen as a weakness or a need for approval or acceptance. But there has to be more to kindness than that.

An article by Ilana Simons in Psychology Today addresses this issue by presenting the views of a book called “On Kindness” by psychologist Adam Philips and historian Barbra Taylor.

Philips and Taylor agree with the Freudian principles about the stages of life, asserting that as humans mature, they become aware and develop a need to protect themselves. All of our human desires come from a need to preserve ourselves and claim our position in the world.

There was one phase of development that Freud admitted existed, but placed little emphasis on. After the stage of individuation, meaning comes through collaboration; and meaningful collaboration usually means kindness. It means giving without expecting anything in return.

Many people are afraid of moving on from their defensive nature and into a nature of vulnerability. Nevertheless, Simons maintains that wise people will exchange order with risk to create and collaborate.

In light of this information, the logical conclusion can be made that being kind to people is a result of a higher level of maturity and development. However, there are those who will argue the fact that many people really are nice to people just to get what they want.

The fact of matter is there is no way for a person to know if another person is being nice for selfish reasons or not, but I like to believe that there are more truly nice people out there than we are willing to notice.

Many people avoid being kind out of fear. They will talk themselves out of kindness by saying, “What if I get hurt?” or “I won’t see the effects of my kindness anyway.”

Once we let go of our selfishness, these doubts and hindrances will go away.

Others avoid kindness because of time or money. Such is human nature. We only do when we have time and we only give when we have money.

The sad truth is that if you do not make time, there will never be time. People make time to do the activities they truly want to do. If there is anything you have not done that you keep telling yourself you will do eventually, the only reason you have not done it is because you do not want to. It is as simple as that.

The same goes for money. You could be a millionaire and continue to wait until you have more money to send a check to a non-profit organization.

I encourage you to break the barrier our society has created against kindness. Being kind is not a weakness; it is a strength. You do not have to do insanely bold acts to be someone’s hero. The most heroic acts are often the small acts of kindness that no one takes the time to notice.

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