Saturday, 10 February 2018

What is required of a man

One of the most obvious things missing from the daily lives of most of us is kindness.

I am not talking about the kindness you show to a stranger by helping them in some random, ad hoc manner. That type of kindness is easily offered.

One of the most difficult things for a man is to maintain a demeanor of kindness during periods of stress. If you can remain kind when you don't feel like being kind then your spouse, family and friends will come to trust you even when you doubt yourself. Like every other man on this planet, you will have to work at this. Being kind is not always easy. 

Sometimes kindness has to be dredged up from the depths of our emotions kicking and screaming. It's the last thing we feel like being. Sometimes there is no personal satisfaction in being kind. There is no emotional boost to our ego, no warm and fuzzy feeling flooding through us. Sometimes we think that gratification will come if we say something unkind, and indeed we may be right, but self-gratification that comes at the expense of another's hurt is never the ground upon which a lasting relationship can be built.

Sometimes being kind feels like the wrong thing to be, but it never is. No one ever lost anything by being kind. We often tell ourselves that we are only speaking the truth, but if we cannot speak the truth with kindness, if we cannot speak the truth with love, then the truth is buried under the emotion we are using to declare it - anger, exasperation, frustration, bitterness, hatred. And you know from personal experience that what is heard is that frustration, that anger, not the content of the truth. 

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we have no right to tell someone else the truth if we are the one who will gain from it. Imparting truth should always be solely for the recipient's good, not ours. Selfish spreading of the truth is a wicked, debilitating behavior and does nothing to heal a relationship. Spreading the truth for the sake of titillating conversation or self-aggrandisement is simply gossip and we all know that gossip separates the best of friends.

Learning to be kind in every circumstance is not an easily won aptitude. This is a skill I am yet to master. It takes determination and application, and a little presence of mind. It forces us to consider our default responses and challenges us to consider our habitual responses to circumstances we dislike.

None of us like to be on the receiving end of an outburst of "the truth". We feel the truth is being used as a weapon against us. The truth is that the truth may hurt us, but it's delivery never should. We are far more likely to consider someone's comment to us, even though it may be disagreeable, if it is delivered kindly and with the recipient benefit in mind. 

What is required of a man? Kindness.

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