The word kindness is related to the word kinship, meaning belonging to a family, being caring and cared for as family.
In my last blog I discussed compassion and how it is now used in medical institutions as an attribute that professionals should learn and develop, and even be examined on. Overall I think this is a good way to explore the subject, but my concern is that it will over-intellectualise the concept and tie it down to a definition and so lose the spiritual quality of the word.
When I have been asked to teach compassion I ask participants to share their experience of someone who they consider to be compassionate; what they say and do and importantly what are their qualities. In a workshop setting, writing poems or doing drawing helps to get more into the feeling of compassion.
Kindness comes from the Heart
However, kindness is a lovely word that has a gentleness and thoughtfulness to it. It is not only a response to suffering; it is given freely and generously to anyone at anytime. It is an action that comes from the heart rather than the head. Let us whisper it and not use it in textbooks. Let each of us quietly and considerately perform acts of kindness and, when we are recipients of kindness, respond graciously.