“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” – Henry James
A little kindness goes a long, long way. But to some people, they expect kindness to be offered to them on a silver platter – and without any return.
Recently, I went to Davao City and rode in a bus. In Sta. Cruz, the bus stopped to drop some passengers. But there were more passengers going to Davao so by the time the bus left, it was fully loaded.
Near the place where I was sitting, a woman was wondering if someone would offer her a seat. Being a gentleman, I stood up and the woman took the place. Without smiling at me or even thanking me for what I did, she immediately went on texting.
The incident reminded me of a story related to me by a friend. The same scenario happened in a bus. When the woman felt that no one was offering her a seat, she started complaining loudly.
“Well, those days of gallantry when men gave their seat to women who are standing in a bus,” she said. And looking at the man who was sitting beside her, she added, “There are men who know a woman needs a seat and he won’t even bother to give her his seat.”
The woman kept on rambling. Twenty minutes later, the man stopped. “Finally, he is going down,” the woman pointed out. “He could not take what I said.”
But before the woman could say another word, the man asked the conductor to give him his crutches. He was having a hard time going down and all eyes were on him. The woman, who took the place, pretended to sleep until it arrived at its destination.
In an office of a non-government organization, this passage was posted in an area where everyone could see and read: “If someone were to pay you P100 for every kind word you ever spoke and collect P50 for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?”
“Kindness is more than deeds,” C. Neil Strait once reminded. “It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.”
There are some instances where a person who has rendered kindness gets in trouble because of the kindness he extended to the other person. If that sounds equivocal to you, let me share the story of an Indonesian journalist who attended the recent conference in Cairns, Australia.
It was a long trip from Jakarta to Sydney. Now, she was ready to take her final flight from Sydney to Cairns. She was already sitting for a few minutes inside the plane when the lone seat next to her was taken by a little Australian boy. “Are you alone?” she inquired. The boy answered negatively. “My father is sitting out there,” he pointed out.
The flight was fully booked and there was no way the father and son could be together. Since it was still a three-hour flight, she stood up and told the father he could take her seat so the two could be together.
They were already flying when she remembered that she placed her notebook computer at the back of the seat where she previously occupied. She stood up and asked the father of the little boy if he saw the computer.
“Yes, I did,” the man replied. “I gave it to the stewardess. I thought it belonged to a previous passenger before this flight.” The journalist answered, “But you know that I occupied this seat before. Why didn’t you bother to ask me first?”
The journalist went to the stewardess and asked for her computer. She was told that it was left in Sydney because they thought it was left by a previous passenger, as what the man told them.
All throughout the flight, the Indonesian journalist was fuming mad. “And this is what I get for extending kindness to them?” she told herself. It was not until two days later that she took hold of her computer again.
“Constant kindness can accomplish much,” said Albert Schweitzer. “As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
A few years ago, I was vacationing with my sister’s family in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. One day, I was in the backyard when I saw my two nephews playing not far from where I was sitting.
Thirty minutes later, I heard Phil shouting for help. “My balloon, my balloon,” he said. But before the balloon went up, Erik was able to grab the string. He gave it to his little brother.
Phil was smiling when he got back his balloon. Without much ado, he told Erik: “Thank you very much. You’re my hero.”
Katherine Francke said it succinctly: “As perfume to the flower, so is kindness to speech.”