The Daily Stoic for May 12th. “Kindness Is Always The Right Response”.
“Kindness is invincible, but only when it’s sincere, with no hypocrisy or faking. For what can even the most malicious person do if you keep showing kindness and, if given the chance, you gently point out where they went wrong—right as they are trying to harm you?”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 188.8.131.52a
Interesting reflection in today’s stoic excerpt. The author is asking us here what would happen if instead of responding violently to cruelty, we fought back with kindness.
“When someone says something pointed or mean today, they expect you to respond in kind—not with kindness. When that doesn’t happen, they are embarrassed. It’s a shock to their system—it makes them and you better.”
Kindness Is Always The Right Response?
While still a small guy, at only 1’70m -and no, I’m not translating that to inches-, I’ve spent 15 years at a gym. I’m not a perfect target for the bullies anymore.
However, it’s not always been like that. I was a slim, physically weak kid. My reign was my books, my computer, and wandering around lost in imaginary worlds. I was also the son of the teacher for most of my childhood. I was the nerd.
That means there was always an excuse for teasing me or even bullying me at school. I was not good at physical education, but I had the highest marks in sprints for sure.
That’s why I find it really hard to believe the author of the book today. Listening to this little child, I don’t think that showing a great, epic act of kindness would have made these guys stop and say: “know what guys? I think this nerd is actually not that bad of a guy. Suddenly instead of kicking him, I feel like hugging him, let’s be friends!”.
Nope… That wouldn’t have happened.
What would had probably happened is an act of submission. And I’ve never been the submissive type. I actually used to get into trouble because of that.
So if you want to know my thoughts… I think that kindness is the right response when the receiver can understand it. In my opinion, today’s stoic excerpt is assigning a level of reasoning to this kind of people that they simply don’t have.
I agree that kindness is usually something we should seek in our actions. However, “Kindness is always the right response”, is hard to believe for me. That would be the case in a different world, where everybody can show a small amount of reasoning or at least empathy.
Maybe it’s the pessimist talking again here. Or maybe it’s the small child in me that ran away from the bullies at school. Anyway, I think both of them are wise guys I should listen to.