Why would JVG grope for an escape? Why would he be so desperate in his trapped corner? For the sake of his adopted daughter. This story is the story of kindness. My definition of kindness is using personal power, resources or influence to bring relief, security, or truer perspective to someone else. Kindness requires humility because it is a true gift. Entering it’s front door means to make a unilateral transfer to someone else’s benefit. Although there is no way to avoid the returning benefits flooding in through the back-door, they cannot be the goal of the transaction, since they will but motivate the giver to greater kind acts. This track of living is so highly desirable (and attractive) I wonder that people are so rare to follow it.
The difficulty is my western Jeffersonian mind of categorization and philosophy. Everyone sees himself as kind categorically. Seeing my person with a desired label, giving myself credit where no credit is due, and excusing myself so easily by defense or by moral superiority are natural habits. All the ways of a man are right in his own eyes – and when they are not, they are at least rationalized as just or fair.
But real kindness must be manifest as actual action in the now. To be kind, I must act on behalf of another despite my judgment and rational excuses, despite the surmise that I have been cheated based on relative merits. My action on her behalf is anonymous and unappreciated in its intent, if not in the actual sense. This action may even appear to have been without the intended impact to the circumstances – not bringing about the relief, security, or truer perspective that forms the objective. Kindness is an act from the heart.
How silly does this sound?: “I am a kind person to those who deserve kindness.”
Some of the most nominally and categorically kind people have the most judgmental and blatantly unkind hearts. This is especially easy to see from the outside, especially so for those who are most judgmental. Once a person establishes that they are categorically kind, then he can easily judge those who are not. I remember an episode of “All in the Family” from the 70s, where Edith rebukes Meathead: “If you were really smarter than he [Archie] is, then you wouldn’t have to let him know it.”
One must lose his life to find it. God is so kind to me. In order for me to follow I must be acted upon by Him. I must seek Him and He must change me (Holy Sonnet IVX).