Kindness Helps Us Endure Adversity

Father Faber maintains that kindness makes life more bearable. He explains: “The burden of life presses heavily upon multitudes of the children of men. It is a yoke, often of such a peculiar nature that familiarity, instead of practically lightening it, makes it harder to bear. Perseverance is the hand of time pressing the yoke down on our galled shoulders with all its might. There are many men to whom life is always approaching the unbearable. It stops only just short of it. We expect it to transgress every moment. But without having recourse to these extreme cases, sin alone is sufficient to make life intolerable to a virtuous man. . . . The possibility of sinning, the danger of sinning, the facility of sinning, the temptation to sin, the example of so much sin around us, and, above all, the sinful unworthiness of men much better than ourselves—these are sufficient to make life drain us to the last dregs of our endurance. In all these cases it is the office of kindness to make life more bearable.”

Besides increasing our endurance against adversities, kindness also helps remedy inequities. “It is true that we make ourselves more unhappy than other people make us. No slight portion of this unhappiness arises from our sense of justice being so continually wounded by the events of life, while the incessant friction of the world never allows the wound to heal. There are some men whose practical talents are completely swamped by the keenness of their sense of injustice. They go through life as failures because the pressure of injustice upon themselves, or the sight of its pressing upon others, has unmanned them. If they begin a line of action, they cannot go through with it. They are perpetually shying, like a mettlesome horse, at the objects by the roadside. They had much in them, but they have died without anything coming of them. Kindness steps forward to remedy this evil also. Each solitary kind action that is done the whole world over is working briskly in its own sphere to restore the balance between right and wrong. The more kindness there is on the earth at any given moment, the greater is the tendency of the balance between right and wrong to correct itself, and remain in equilibrium. . . . Kindness is the amiability of justice.”

Quotations from Frederick William Faber, Kindness (London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1901).

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