Good and Kind

What good shall I do this day?

As your day starts, do you ask yourself what good you shall do today? As your day ends, do you ask yourself, what good did you do today?

And what is your answer?

And if you do not ask yourself these things, why don’t you? I too need to improve my practice.

Of course, what is “good”?

Some time ago when I first read Dale Carnegie’s famous How To Win Friends and Influence People, one thing that struck me from his first chapter was his demonstration that even ruthless criminals consider what they are doing is “good”. It’s simply human that we only undertake things we consider “good”. Where the issue comes is when your definition of good differs from my definition, or society’s definition.

To me, a key differentiator is – kindness.

To be friendly, generous, considerate. It implies interaction with others, in a friendly, generous, and considerate way.

You may think killing a bunch of people you find repugnant is “doing good”. But where is the kindness in such action?

You may think manifesting your outrage, labeling others as “wrong”, shouting them down, campaigning for change is doing good. But where is the kindness? And in your self-evaluation, are you considering kindness towards your enemies as well? Or are you just blindly rationalizing your choices?

Look at the fruits of such action. Is it making the world better? Is it leading to a world of more kindness and understanding? At least as I see it, it’s only making matters worse.

Carnegie concludes his chapter:

Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”

I’ve been so angered and saddened the past few days. Another horrible thing happens in the world, and so many people’s response is more anger, more lashing out, more fuel for their political fires, more attacking symptoms and not underlying problems, more blindness, more blame, more hate – and especially from people who espouse otherwise. Something about a log in your own eye.

They all believe what they are doing is “good”. But goodness without kindness, I don’t think is good.

I see no attempt to understand.

I see no attempt at kindness.

I see no attempt to love.

I weep.

But I strengthen my resolve. What good shall I do this day?

What good will you do this day?


7 thoughts on “Good and Kind

  1. John, I know my karma is going to take a ding for this… but… I am having a hard time with expressing any kindness toward the circus surrounding these horrific events like the latest act of barbarity in South Carolina. Right or wrong, well, it’s how I feel these days.

    • Oh I do understand. And I by no means am excusing nor condoning these horrible acts.

      This is a reaction to how people are handling these effects — my reaction to their reaction.

    • As well, I think we’ve got a larger problem in society right now, where everything is met and responded to with anger and other negative responses. I see it from all “sides”… no one group nor party nor affiliation seems to be immune. Everyone is angry. So few are willing to listen, to be humble, to consider the other side, to actually try to grow and become educated and work for real solutions to deeper, underlying problems. Everyone just wants to be angry and smash perceived enemies.

      And where is that getting us?

  2. John, I hope you did not get the impression I thought you were condoning such barbarity. I certainly did not mean that to sound that way if it did.

    I agree. We do have a much larger issue in society today.

    I can understand where a lot of it comes from. People these days are worried. In spite of the lies from our government and their media lapdogs things are not good for many people. Loads of despair. Despair breeds anger. Anger seems to beget more anger.

    All the selfishness in public, in stores, on our roads….

    It does not help when certain segments of our population are preyed upon by the self serving purveyors of that hate. The so-called race baiters.

    Politicians who tell the poor their problems are because the mean old 1%er’s don’t “pay their fair share” Or how some demographics are being preyed upon and targeted for death by law enforcement. How so many are being taught they are entitled to something only to find those promises are empty.

    Meh. I had not intended to run off on a political rant. I’ll STHU now.

    I am generally a decent bloke. I hold doors for people, I say please and thanks many times through my interactions with people I encounter in my day.

    As for kindness as you outline… I’m not sure I have the emotional bandwidth left after watching all the shenanigans I see in the news and around me.

    • No worries on the political rant… that’s much of what’s involved here.

      I hear you as well about the emotional bandwidth. That’s why I’m so tired… so exhausted about things. But for me it gets back to the whole “be the change you want to see in the world”. So, if I want to see more kindness, more love… well, that’s what I gotta be and what I gotta do. If we don’t try, then the anger will only consume all of us.

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