What Kindness Does For a Person

Father Faber writes: “What does kindness do for those to whom we show it? We have looked at its office on a grand scale in the whole world; let us narrow our field of observation, and see what it does for those who are its immediate objects. What we note first as of great consequence, is the immense power of kindness in bringing out the good points of the characters of others. Almost all men have more goodness in them than the ordinary intercourse of the world enables us to discover. Indeed, most men, from the glimpses we now and then obtain, carry with them to the grave much undeveloped nobility. Life is seldom so varied or so adventurous as to enable a man to unfold all that is in him. A creature who has got capabilities in him to live forever can hardly have room in threescore years to do more than give specimens of what he might be and will be.”

“But, beside this, who has not seen how disagreeable and faulty characters will expand under kindness? Generosity springs up fresh and vigorous from under a superincumbent load of meanness. Modesty suddenly discloses itself from some safe cavern where it has survived years of sin. Virtues come to life. . . . It is wonderful what capabilities grace can find in the most unpromising character. It is a thing to be much pondered.”

“But Kindness does not reveal these things to us external spectators only. It reveals a man to himself. It rouses the long-dormant self-respect with which grace will speedily ally itself, and purify it by the alliance. Neither does it content itself with making a revelation. It develops as well as reveals; it gives these newly disclosed capabilities of virtue, vigour and animation. It presents them with occasions; it even trains and tutors them. It causes the first actions of the recovering soul to be actions on high principles, and from generous motives. It shields and defends moral convalescence from the dangers which beset it. A kind act has picked up many a fallen man.”

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

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