Ankur Aras

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Is Kindness - Powerful?

Can, 'kindness' - serve as a powerful guide to live?

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    Jul 12 2012: Kindness is the most powerful, because it comes from the greatest type of love: a love with shows that you are as important to me as I am to me.

    This may be simply stated, but it is very deep. The act of showing kindness shows, at least in that moment of kindness, that a human being has truly reached a level above where we usually are, which is, frankly, giving to others only in measure of what we will eventually obtain. Usually, we give in order to receive. Kindness not only gives, but gives in a way that says, I "feel" your emotion so acutely that it becomes "my" emotion: here, take my hand, take my eye, take my whatever you need.

    That is kindness.

    Or so it seems.
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        Jul 15 2012: Thank you for your kind words, sir. But I can't claim credit for the idea - it comes from the God whom I serve: the Prince of Peace. (aka Jesus Christ)
    • Jul 24 2012: Wonderfully-said!
      (Who was it who said, "Only connect.")
      What is power? (As Don said, "It can be if that is what we are tuned to hear.") Be kind.
  • Jul 13 2012: One act of kindness acts like ripple in the lake....
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    Sarah M

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    Jul 13 2012: The act of anything positive in any persons life is powerful.
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    Jul 13 2012: Is Kindness - Powerful?
    well that completely depends on a situation .... Kindness has to be accompanied by intellect and judegment .... Using kindness all the time can put you in trouble... So I would rephrase Kindness with caution is Powerful... :)
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      Jul 13 2012: Hello Bharath:>)
      I agree that how we extend kindness may be situational, and there are many different outward expressions of kindness. I also agree that it is wise to use our intellect to understand how, why, when, where, and with whom we extend different levels of kindness.

      I don't agree that using kindness all the time can put you in trouble. I think/feel that if we are using our intellect, as you insightfully suggest, as well as intuition, we generally know what level of kindness to extend to whom. What do you think/feel about this idea?
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        Jul 13 2012: Definitely Colleen ,
        I could not agree more with you on this .... I would also like to add that even experience can also be a factor in our act of kindness... :)
  • Jul 11 2012: In my experience, kindness is often most powerful when you can find the self awareness and will to act in contradiction to your natural impulse.

    I have an abstract analogy for you;

    I see the people around me the same way I see a lion or a rabbit. A rabbit is helpless, I wouldn't hurt one and I would certainly help one if i can. A lion is dangerous and it will hurt or kill me if I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Neither the lion nor the rabbit deserve to be hated or hurt.

    Preferably, I would always interact with people as if they were the rabbit with absolute compassion and kindness but when someone is a threat to me, I must protect myself from them like I would a lion.
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      Jul 11 2012: Hi Luke,
      I agree that kindness is more powerful when we are self aware and mindful. I also believe that kindness can be a "natural impulse" when we are more aware and mindful.

      You bring up a good point...that we can act/react with kindness and compassion most of the time, and I agree that when someone threatens us, we may react in a way that does not seem kind. Kindness, like everything else in life, flows... in my perception. Sometimes, we can be as kind as possible with another person, and if that person is not willing to accept our kindness, or is in an unkind state in him/her self, it stops the flow.

      You, I, and a few other folks have been called unkind, cruel, and a representative of the devil for not AGREEING with someone. Kindness, to me, does not mean that I will agree all the time. It means that I will interact with respect. If the person is not willing to accept kindness, and sees my disagreement as cruelty, there is nothing more I can do about opening the channels of kindness to a natural flow.
      • Jul 11 2012: Kindness itself is a rather subjective and ambiguous term. There is the stereotypical viewpoint that you should always say positive/constructive/uplifting things but I believe that the intention is the most important aspect of kindness and that requires a deep and honest self awareness.

        It's not at all difficult or uncommon to respond to a comment with the conscious intention of being kind while feeling angry and placing passive aggressive subtle implications in without even realising it. I often convince myself to wait until the next day before I reply to a comment if I can feel that there is too much emotion present to give a balanced response. I will admit though that there have been times when I have failed to convince myself to wait that extra day.

        There is also a matter of different prospectives. If I encounter someone that is clearly upset about something, I might start talking in a tone that I believe sounds concerned and non-threatening. The person I am talking to might hear that choice of tone and believe that I am being condescending.

        I have learnt that you can't necessarily just tell the other person that you're not being condescending, you have to change your strategy to fit their expectations.

        I have found that I cannot have a single universal rulebook with people. Different people have different social contracts they expect you to follow. As with anything else though it's a matter of balance, you can't change everything about yourself to fit someone else’s expectations but you can't expect them to either, compromise is the key.
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          Jul 11 2012: I agree is subjective, and a stereotypical viewpoint is that to be kind, we always "should" say positive, uplifting things and not disagree.

          I also agree that intention in our communications is important, that we CAN respond with kindness, although that may not be the only thing we are feeling in the moment, and it does indeed help to wait sometimes. I often read comments several times, in different ways, to understand as well as I can, what the other person is communicating. There are many different styles of communication.

          I also am aware of writing/speaking in a concerned, non-threatening tone, and I have been called passive-aggressive or condescending. Actually, that has only happened here on TED!
          When I started commenting on TED, there were a LOT of folks who said I was too "sugary sweet", not "real", etc. When the TEDcred system was different, I used to get thumbs down a LOT for being "too nice". LOL! That was pretty funny because at the same time as people were asking how to find happiness, contentment, peace and harmony in our world, they were accusing me of being too sugary sweet and kind!

          With electronic communications, we are missing a valuable part of communication....body language, which is about 65% of face to face communications. I agree that it's important to find, or at least seek, balance:>)
      • Jul 11 2012: For me it tends to be the other way around. I find that I miss more with face to face real time interaction because I do not have time to stop and think about what was said before responding.

        Electronically, I can read and re-read what someone has said and re-consider my response several times before settling on one which fits best and feels most likely to communicate the desired message.

        As a rule, I try to always assume the best possible interpretation about what someone has said online and respond to that. If I'm wrong I can always tell them off for being an asshole to me later. :P
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          Jul 11 2012: OKEY DOKEY!!! I'll keep that in mind.....LOL:>)

          Actually, we had a conversation (our first), in which we did not agree...or maybe misunderstood the were very much a kind, respectfull gentleman, and I hope I was a kind respectful person as well. Don't tell me that I was an a______'s too late!!! :>)
      • Jul 11 2012: I think kind and respectful gentleman might be a bit more than I deserve, I was a bit frustrated at the time and I'm sure I could have been more thoughtful and tactful. Perhaps the conversation might have been able to continue if I had been more thoughtful and tactful.

        I believe it was a miscommunication and I don't think badly of you for it.
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          Jul 11 2012: Dear Luke,
          I felt your frustration, and I thank you again for reinforcing what I felt at the very end of our discussion....connected, rather than disconnected. My cup is usually half full, rather than half empty:>)
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    Jun 25 2012: Yes, it can also be catching. Lead by example and others copy, so if you act kindly - people relax and trust you.
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    Jun 25 2012: ABSOLUTELY!
    And in addition to being powerful, it is a LOT more enjoyable than the alternative:>)
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      Jun 25 2012: Thank you
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        Jun 25 2012: My pleasure...with kindness:>)
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          Jun 25 2012: Colleen, In my reply above I mention CASA. I have often wondered if you are also a CASA. If not I think you would be an excellent advocate.

          All the best. Bob.
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    Jul 24 2012: There can not be good in life and living without love. And kindness is one of the attributes of love.

    Thus, kindness, like all the attributes of love, is a powerful guide to life and living.
  • Jul 24 2012: To be touched by true kindness, is to unmistakebly know, that there is no force, except love, more powerful.
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    Lejan .

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    Jul 15 2012: Kindness itself contains no power, its intention can! If it's a good one, it will guide as such in life.
  • Jul 13 2012: I think it is really none of my or anyone else's concern.
    It only matters whether one practices it or not, meaning extends it, shows it, bestows it upon others or another.

    Is there power in prayer? If there is, then it is virtually impossible to pray without something happening but that isn't necessarily going to be known by the one doing the praying.

    Why we decide to choose who to extend it to is what interests and amazes me.
    People use situations or conditions as reasons not to. They use the risk of getting into trouble for performing an act of kindness, as a reason not to. They use their own self-perceived concept of being important or more important as a reason not to.

    Suddenly there seem to be more reasons and justifications for not using kindness and this points out clearly that the world doesn't really want to change, or love or be peaceful for there are just too many "rational, sober and well-thought out reasons not to be.

    Let's force some people to exist in the dark just to protect themselves from the majority's fear, lack of faith and trust and lack of love and kindness, towards all, and then demand they come out into the light so that we may persecute, prosecute, incarcerate, demonize, demoralize and mentally torture them through social ridicule, before executing them.

    We will play god and choose who to be kind to and who to condemn in our great knowledge of what it means to be kind.

    Give kindness to whomever, wherever, whenever. The affect, is not for the one giving it.
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      Jul 12 2012: Hello Don,

      How did kindness save your life?

      Please can you share your story.

      Thank you.
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    Jul 11 2012: Kindness is powerful even if only to change us from within.
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    Jun 25 2012: Ankur, You question, on the surface, appears simple .. it is not. As a matter of fact it is very complex. An act of kindness may intentionally or unintentionally be seen as an insult, patronizing, contempt, demeaning, etc ... or it may simply be appreciated.

    There are those among us who see kindness as as weakness to be exploited. Kindness maybe a tool for the easing of conscience. If a politician visits a shelter and serves a meal to the homeless is he really being kind or is it a photo op to enhance his image. Yelling for the rights of children is covered by the media but being a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is demanding and rewarding and a private act of kindness of giving of ones self for a cause.

    I cannot judge my fellow man as to his intentions. Kindness as truth can be soft and gentle or harsh and cruel. The truth lives within the heart of both the reciepent and the giver.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Jun 25 2012: Hi Robert,
      I agree that there are those among us who see kindness as a weakness, and sometimes these folks try to exploit us. If we know ourselves, and are giving freely, we are in tune with why, when, where, and with whom we want to extend ourselves. If we are truly in tune with ourselves, we also know our intention:>) We don't truthfully know anyone else's intentions. It is good to simply keep track of ourselves:>)

      Regarding your comment below....
      No, I was not a CASA, although I thought about it. I had a stint as a case reviewer with SRS (social and rehabilitative servises - oversees children in state custody). It was a short stint (one year) because I was filling in for someone on maternity leave. As a case reviewer, I facilitated meetings with all the players in a childs life...parents, foster parents, educators, health care providers, etc. etc....all those involved with the child. I filled out a case report, gave suggestions based on the information provided at the meeting, etc. That is what I refer to when I speak about being an advocate for children in state custody, which I've mentioned in comments.

      Thanks for your confidence in me...yeah....I think I would have been good too! There are just SO many things out there for us to do!!!
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    Jul 13 2012: Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
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      Jul 12 2012: Yes, I meant, Kindness as an individual act.
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    Jul 11 2012: It should be mentioned that kindness can be detrimental when it comes from the government as the individuals become dependent on the government and it is not kindness at all.
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      Jul 11 2012: I agree Pat, that many government programs, under the guise of "kindness", give to people in a way that causes masses of people to be dependent. That behavior is indeed "powerful" in that it DISempowers people, so I agree that it is many times, not true kindness, but rather a way to control.
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      Jul 12 2012: I'd like to state that a government can not be kind or unkind, as kindness implies an strong emotive character. A government is simply acting according to the will of the people (whether the people know it or not). Any government kindness in trying to help people was established to try to help fulfill a need. If a program has unintended negative consequences, it means the people running it have messed up the original intent and it is up to the people at large to understand and make it better.

      Just my two cents' worth.
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        Jul 12 2012: I agree Verble,
        The "government" cannot be kind or unkind. The government, however, is made up of people. I believe that people, out of the kindness of their hearts, start government programs which are meant to help other people fullfill a need, as you insightfully say. Sometimes, the programs get misdirected and/or are not facilitated in a way that actually helps people. As you say...the people running the programs may mess up the original intent. It all comes back to individual people. I think we're on the same page?
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        Jul 12 2012: The thing about government is that it is made up of individuals all of whom look out for their personal interest, this is human nature. When there is little accountability as with the federal government in the U.S. bad things happen.

        It is true that the representatives are supposed to represent their constituents. The reality is that the only thing a politician really cares about is reelection. Other than that depending on the individual... amidst a culture of undeniable unethical conduct...

        In general people do not like to see, hear, or speak no evil, the problem is that to handle evil you have to confront it.

        The programs that are created always have the apparency of "good". The test of this (as Krisztián likes to point out) is to offer their constituents an alternative. An example is a bill passed called Sarbanes Oxley it passed with almost 100% of the votes from both Republican and Democrats. It's intention was to make sure that nothing like Enron (a stock scam, it is on Wikipedia) occurred again. The problem is that it has existed now for 10 years
        at a cost to the economy every year of 1.5 Trillion dollars and has yet to find one single solitary instance of it's intended purpose. In the U.S. on of the strongest industries you can get into is financial services (accounting) I contend that this is the reason.

        At the time I'm sure the authors of this legislation were very proud of the legislation but none the less has been a HUGE burden on the country. Yet Sarbanes Oxley will go on into perpetuity, which for this country will be a few decades, and this is just one of many will be the ruin of this country.

        Krisztián would also say that the more government meddles the more it has to mettle as with Sarbanes Oxley, there were already plenty of laws on the books that would of handled Enron situations. So you see there always unintended consequences, not sometimes but every single time, do you see that?
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          Jul 15 2012: Oh yes, There are always unintended consquences, because government doesn't make a law if there is no problem. Laws are made as a way to solve a current problem. SarbOx woudn't have been necessary if Enron (and Xerox and others) hadn't cooked the books so badly that they tanked the economy and started off the millenium with a bang.

          However, there is another issue at play. Those who want to allow business to continue to run rampant and unchecked throughout our economy are those who have orchestrated this rather effective smear campaign against government. This idea that "government is trying to take away your freedom/Big Brother/meddle/make you gay marry/blah blah blah" is propoganda to make the citizens wary and untrustful of the government. This is why we are even suspicious of those government programs that truly help. We perceive this kindness as a way of maniplulation, thus keeping people dependent, thus maintaining a cycle of dependence.

          My entire posit is that we stop thinking of our government as the oppressor and involve ourselves more in it. We the people take it back over, by petitioning, by protesting, by assembling, and by clamoring more for government to work for us.

          My apologies for rambling, and my sincere apologies for going way off topic. But this has been very interesting (and I hope we don't get deleted for being off-topic!)
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        Jul 15 2012: Verble

        "There are always unintended consequences, because government doesn't make a law if there is no problem."

        The politicians take every opportunity to gain political capital as the did with Sarbanes Oxley, the fact is there were already more than enough laws to deal with the problem. The overkill probably made hay for the politicians but are a HUGE burden on the economy.

        The government has been growing for almost 100 and in a hockey stick analogy in the past 10 years. Forget the ideology the reality is that we cannot afford anymore of spending and is the downfall of most countries in history. This is not opinion it just is a fact?

        I agree with your 3rd paragraph in the sense that government works for us not the other way around. But that means is the government has to shrink, again this is not my opinion. Federal government is borrowing .40 cent of every dollar that is spent, the interest on the borrowed money is going to be 25% of the budget, the entitlements are unsustainable. Truthfully the country is going to fail it is only a matter of when. The only very slim chance is that enough people smell the coffee but if TED is representative of the voters we are toast.
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          Jul 16 2012: In my opinion TED represents a small minority of the voters: those who try to follow and understand, instead of listen to what Fox News tells them and vote that way. Frankly, 90% of the electorate only votes for what they hear their friends vote in hearsay.

          But, since we're so far off the kindness topic, do you think we should go ahead and create a new discussion? Perhaps one tha addresses these questions regarding government enabling the citizenry, or disabling the citizenry? If you want me to start one, let me know - and if you do, let me know as well.


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        Jul 16 2012: Your opinion would be different than most polls and my opinion of course. Most people are asleep and vote how the media brainwashes them to vote. In my experience tea party members are not asleep and are lucid and informed (like me for instance (8^(l) ) I have not seen what your are talking about.

        If you want to start a new thread, but this subject has been done quite a bit and there are 100 Tedsters for every one of me so it gets a little old...( you know the informed thinker types-- against the few knuckle dragger types like me)
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    Jun 25 2012: Yes second only to admiration.
  • Jun 25 2012: Is there value in looking at great people and leaders of the past for addressing this question?

    Each person may assess for himself!!