Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kindness above all

“There is nothing to take away a man’s freedom from him save other men”.

Ayn Rand in “Anthem”

“Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains”.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau in “The Social Contract”

And the strongest, sometimes bitter- sweetest of them all is the familial chain. Family as in the first, second, at times third and fourth orbit. Kinfolk. A band of men, women and children tied by blood and the law.

It is the four walls inside which these units reside that I speak of . The walls within which people live out more than half their lives. The walls that witness them at their most vulnerable and also their strongest.

It takes courage to live within those walls. For those walls mark a boundary...there is a thermosphere outside and a troposphere inside. It is here, in the latter that the kindred exert a terrifying power over each other. The power to not only nourish and build but also to negate and break.

Humans have to be unique in their capacity to hurt those they profess to love. Sometimes by default, at times by design, we smother, ridicule, pressurise, emotionally blackmail, decimate and destroy behind those walls. It is not unusual for humans to be courteous to strangers and then turn around and misbehave with the very people they are living out their karma alongside.

Not to say this is the norm. Of course there are families that support and nourish and encourage and lend values and set great examples. Perhaps it is the reason, among others, that we continue to raise families. It seems the next best thing to do after college and job? Lust, laundry and loneliness cure? To keep civilizations going? Or because we all need personal witnesses to what we did with our lives? Is it a quest for immortality, a way to continue a connection with the world through successive generations? Or for the husband’s aged parents to be looked after? To fulfil that most basic of all human be able to trust one person be the most important one to somebody ? So that we may move up one step in our evolution?

Whatever the reason, it is here, within these walls where families live that I rate “kindness” as the highest virtue and value. I remember meeting a young couple at a mutual friend’s social event once. Pleasantries over, the wife shot a candid aside, “Doing fine indeed! The minute we step into our car to go home, we turn into ogres.”

Be kind I say. Gentle. Tread softly. Stop and take a moment to heed each other’s pain and disappointment. Each other’s joy and accomplishment.

It isn't all that much those walled people are asking,

All everybody really wants is to be right!

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