Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Why Kindness Matters

Last night I retweeted a lovely positive thought from a running friend (the running community tends to be a supportive, encouraging bunch) about kindness… and provoked a troll who came out of his cave to tell us exactly what he thought of us. Some people, it seems, will have a pop at anyone which is a great shame when there’s more than enough unhappiness and pain in the world. Perhaps the troll thought I was a bit of a Pollyanna which is ironic because the only reason I’ve been trying to hold on to any moments of comfort and joy is because this year’s been so demanding!

Like everyone else, our family’s had its share – quite a large one, in fact - of unhappiness, illness and tragedy. A full life comes with ups and downs, light and shade – it’s part of being alive – so we have to cherish the good times, take pleasure in small moments and make the most of every day. My birthday, at the end of November, brought a moment of pure happiness when I looked round a restaurant table at my daughters, their husbands, my granddaughter and my husband. 

A few hours later we were rushing to the south east to a hospital emergency department where my mother-in-law had been admitted for a life-threatening condition.

My mother-in-law remains seriously ill so we’re all doing what we can to ease the situation. Tom’s been at her bedside or with my father-in-law for much of the time and there’s been a lot of commuting up and down the M4. It’s a tough time full of uncertainty but I’ve been very touched by kind messages from dear friends who write or pick up the phone to say they’re thinking of us.

Maybe it’s the time of life or maybe it’s the time of year, but I’ve thought a lot lately about the reading which always marked the end of term at the traditional girls’ grammar school I was very fortunate to attend. It’s St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 13 on the nature of love which, though I’m not religious, always moves me for its beauty and poetry. If I close my eyes I can still hear the words and that closing line falling into the hush of a final assembly or a Christmas service at St Martin’s Church in Epsom. ‘So now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’

Kindness - love if you like - matters because it’s what makes us human, gives us comfort, and brings us hope for the future. I may not always succeed – I know I’ve failed plenty of times - but I’ll continue to try to treat others as I would hope to be treated then I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I did my best.

I mention the troll incident to my dear friend Jill who reminds me that back in our school days trolls were plastic dolls with coloured hair that we stuck on the ends of our pencils. A fleeting thought crosses my mind that a few real life trolls could do with a pencil up the bottom… but that would be unkind, wouldn’t it?