How Kind Words Are Remedial

Father Faber demonstrates the power of kind words. First, he shows how they are remedial, then, how they are productive.

“Kind words are the music of the world. They have a power which seems to be beyond natural causes. . . . It seems as if they could almost do what in reality God alone can do—namely, soften the hard and angry hearts of men. Many a friendship, long, loyal and self-sacrificing, rested at first on no thicker a foundation than a kind word. The two men were not likely to be friends. Perhaps each of them regarded the other’s antecedents with somewhat of distrust. They had possibly been set against each other by the circulation of gossip. Or they had been looked upon as rivals, and the success of one was regarded as incompatible with the success of the other. But a kind word, perhaps a mere report of a kind word, has been enough to set all things straight, and to be the commencement of an enduring friendship.”

“The power of kind words is shown also in the destruction of prejudices, however inveterate they may have been. Surely we must all of us have experienced this ourselves. For a long time we have had prejudices against a person. They seem to be extremely well founded. . . . But kind words pass, and the prejudices thaw away. Right or wrong, there was some reason or show of reason for forming them, while there is neither reason nor show of reason for their departure. There is no logic in the matter, but a power which is above logic, the simple, unassisted power of a few kind words.”

“What has been said of prejudices applies equally to quarrels. Kind words will set right things which have got most intricately wrong. . . . Most men get tired of the justest quarrels. Even those quarrels where the quarrel has all been on one side, and which are always the hardest to set right, give way in time to kind words. . . . All quarrels probably rest on misunderstanding, and only live by silence, which, as it were, stereotypes the misunderstanding. A misunderstanding which is more than a month old may generally be regarded as incapable of explanation. Renewed explanations become renewed misunderstandings. Kind words patiently uttered for long together, and without visible fruit, are our only hope. They will succeed; they will not explain what has been misunderstood, but they will do what is much better—make explanation unnecessary, and so avoid the risk which always accompanies explanations of reopening old sores.”

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

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