From time to time, I have been described as “kind” as if it were a remarkable trait, almost heroic. I am pleased with the compliment, of course, since I do value kindness, but it strikes me as the humblest of the virtues. The courage of the firefighter, persistent love for a difficult person, fairness in declining an unfair advantage, honesty when others are cheating – these are noble virtues, difficult to attain. But nothing is simpler or easier than a moment of kindness. Often it takes only a reassuring word or a quick errand for a neighbor in need. I have always liked the Quaker saying, “If there is a kindness I can give to a stranger, let me do it now, for they may not pass this way again.” How heroic can that be? Maybe kindness is so modest a virtue that we simply forget. Modest yes, but perhaps the essential enactment of our humanity vis-à-vis one another.
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