Kindness: the Key to Heaven and People
By Fr. George Morelli
Many have heard of “random acts of kindness,” but how many of us take it seriously enough to make kindness a priority in our lives? St. Paul reminds us in Romans 11:22 that God's kindness returns to us, provided that we continue in his kindness. But some still resist.
Kindness is a central factor in so many traditions. The Talmud notes: “Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments.” The Koran notes: “There is a reward for kindness to every living animal or human.” In the Buddhist tradition Ashoka writes: “…Kindness to living beings should be made strong and the truth should be spoken.''
I will give one example of how many of us fail at kindness: unkind communication. Some assume in order to make a point they have to speak in anger, harshness and rudeness. Clinical psychologists (Beck, Shaw & Emery, 1979) point out that the basis of this misperception is significant intrusion. The value of what they consider significant is such that they feel they have a "right" to be angry. This is an exalted state of self-importance by which people define themselves which gives them this "right." It reveals an underlying postulate of self-definition that allows all anger to be justified.Spiritually, such misconception of one’s value is the vice of pride. One saint of the Eastern Church, St. John of the Ladder, has told us: "Pride is a denial of God, an invention of the [evil one], contempt for men.”
Is there an alternative to angry communication? Yes, assertive communication: an honest and true communication in a socially acceptable tone and demeanor. Only when a soft-tone response fails to bring about the desired result should words be said more firmly. However, keep in mind, the key is not to cross over the line into an angry tone The writer of the Book of Proverbs (15:4) tells us: "A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit." Relating to others can be done, in the words of St. Paul to the Galatians (5:22-23), in “patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Kindness is pleasing both to God and man.
Beck, A.T., Rush, S., Shaw, B. & Emery, G (1979). Cognitive Therapy of Depression. NY: Guilford Press.
Morelli, G. (2006, July 02). Assertiveness and Christian charity. http://www.orthodoxytoday...
Morelli, G (2006c). Healing: Orthodox Christianity and Scientific Psychology Fairfax VA : Eastern Christian Publications.
(2006). http://www.nimh.nih.gov/St. John of the Ladder. (1982), John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent. NY: Paulist Press.