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The Cushion of Kindness in Volatile Times

by Kare Anderson
Author & Speaker


"Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble."
      ~ French proverb

As this month's U.S. headlines are dominated by the stock market's volatility and the fight over a Cuban boy's future, perhaps it is time to cultivate feelings of empathy, not envy or enmity. As Deborah Tannen describes so eloquently in her book *The Argument Culture,* our media fans the fires of a "right-wrong" way of escalating discussions that can freeze us in our differences.

On the other hand, whatever we praise, we can cause to flourish. We can choose, moment by moment, where to put our attention, emotion, and intention. "Our visions begin with our desires," wrote Audre Lorde. "Comic vision often leads to serious solutions," wrote humorist, Malcolm L. Kushner. "If you think you're too small to make a difference, you've obviously never been in bed with a mosquito," wrote Michelle Walker.

"The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines," wrote Charles Kuralt in On the Road with Charles Kuralt

"So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs,"
wrote Ella Wheeler Wilcox in The World's Need

In fact, looking back on life, what we most fondly remember might be, not what we accomplished, but the joy we shared along the way to those accomplishments. So, in this newsletter to you, dear friends from around the world, I'm sharing some of my favorite related quotes to stimulate a quiet "Kindness Campaign" in my life, and perhaps in yours.

"Keep what is worth keeping. And with the breath of kindness blow the rest away," wrote English novelist, Dinah Mulock Craik. Here's to making more opportunities to play, laugh, celebrate, and "say it better" in cultivating kindness as life's genuine "keeper."

As a further incentive toward acting more peaceably in daily situations, Redford and Virginia Williams, in their book, Anger Kills: Seventeen Strategies for Controlling the Hostility That Can Harm Your Health, offer a horrifyingly specific description of the physical damage habitually angry persons cause to their own bodies.

Life contains few absolutes, and one of those few is that kindness usually cultivates connection, something we yearn for in a time-pressed, ear-to-the-cell-phone, relationship-diminished culture. After all, the heart can be our strongest muscle if we exercise it regularly. Yet being kind is not a guarantee of safety from hurt - nothing offers that failsafe comfort.

"Kindness and intelligence don't always deliver us from the pitfalls and traps: there are always failures of love, of will, of imagination. There is no way to take the danger out of human relationships," wrote Barbara Grizzuti Harrison in an article for McCall's magazine way back in 1975.

In Parade magazine, Whoopi Goldberg is quoted as saying, "I fear waking up one morning and finding out it was all for nothing. We're here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark." Robin Sharma offers some heart-warming examples of kindness in his book, Who Will Cry When You Die?

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares," wrote Henri Nouwen in Out of Solitude.

Years ago from a college classmate, I heard a Persian proverb, "With a sweet tongue of kindness, you can drag an elephant by a hair."

"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate," wrote Albert Schweitzer. "He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love," wrote the Greek religious leader, Saint Basil.

Kindness is often unspoken. "An eye can threaten like a loaded and leveled gun, or it can insult like hissing or kicking; or, in its altered mood, by beams of kindness, it can make the heart dance for joy," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. At another time, Emerson wrote, "You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."

"You may be sorry that you spoke, sorry you stayed or went, sorry you won or lost, sorry so much was spent. But as you go through life, you'll find -- you're never sorry you were kind," said Herbert Prochnow.

"Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom," wrote Theodore Isaac Rubin in One to One.

"Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness and small obligations win and preserve the heart, said English chemist Humphrey Davy.

"We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop that makes it run over. So in a series of kindness there is, at last, one which makes the heart run over," once wrote the Scottish lawyer and biographer, James Boswell.

"We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck . . . But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness," wrote columnist Ellen Goodman.

From an artist's perspective, ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, "The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure."

Readers, please give me the pleasure of receiving your favorite quotes on kindness, by email to [email protected]. I'd appreciate sharing them with others in a future "Say It Better" newsletter. And, of course, feel free to share this newsletter with friends who might want to subscribe at www.sayitbetter.com

With kind intentions, Kare




For those who want to learn more on the path to kindness, here are some other books I recommend:
  • Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All by Gerald G Jampolsky, M.D., and Neale Donald Walsch
  • Generosity: Virtue in Civil Society by Tibor R. Machan
  • No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Mpilo Tutu
  • Radical Forgiveness: Making Room for the Miracle by Colin C. Tipping
  • Resolving Conflict Sooner by Kare Anderson
  • The Courage to Give: Inspiring Stories of People Who Triumphed over Tragedy to Make a Difference in the World by Jackie Waldman et al
  • The Art of Forgiving: When You Need to Forgive and Don't Know How by Lewis B. Smedes
  • The Daily Journal of Kindness: A Guide for Creating Your Own Kindness Revolution by Hanoch McCarty and Meladee McCarty
  • The Dalai Lama a Policy of Kindness: An Anthology of Writings by and about the Dalai Lama by Sidney Piburn (Editor) and Claiborne Pell
  • The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner
  • The Hidden Power of Kindness: A Practical Handbook for Souls Who Dare to Transform the World, One Deed at a Time by Lawrence G. Lovasik

©1999 by Kare Anderson. All rights reserved.


Kare Anderson is a behavioral futurist who speaks and writes about "Say It Better" methods of thoughtful communication, conflict resolution, cross-promotion and outreach, and multisensory techniques to create more memorable on-site experiences. An Emmy-winning former TV commentator, Wall Street Journal reporter she’s a national columnist in 98 monthly magazines (from Gourmet Retailer to Broadcast Engineering), nine-time author ( Getting What You Want, Pocket Cross-Promotions, Make Yourself Memorable, Beauty Inside Out, Cutting Deals With Unlikely Allies, Resolving Conflict Sooner . . .) and publisher of the "Say It Better" online newsletter now read by over 17,000 people in 32 countries, which is available free when you sign the guest book at her web site at www.sayitbetter.com. Anderson is the co-founder of The Compelling Communications Group

Learn how to reduce or avoid arguments for just $10.95. Kare's new book, Resolving Conflict Sooner, offers a powerfully simple four-step method, plus 100 specific persuasion techniques. Reserve a copy now at your bookstore. Or order one by sending a $12 check to "Kare Anderson" at our address below and we'll include the "Clarity Cards" pack of 40 tips + inspirational sayings for free.

See what others are already saying about Resolving Conflict Sooner. Go to http://www.sayitbetter.com and click on the cover of the book. And please sign the guestbook to let us know you were there.

Get a complete persuasion and conflict resolution course: Learn over 600 communication techniques in Kare's most comprehensive educational product, the 6-tape and book program called "The Resolution Response" -- an engrossing, easy-to-follow, idea-packed program for you and your organization for just $89.00.

The Compelling Communications Group
15 Sausalito Blvd., Sausalito, Ca 94965-2464
Telephone: (415) 331-6336
Fax: (415) 331-6661
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.sayitbetter.com


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