Una's Blog


Una’s little world 24. Kindness





by Una Hearne.

One Christmas, many years ago when a friend of mine was a boy, let’s call him Freddy (since that’s his name). Freddy lived in Ballyfermot with his family. They were poor, properly poor, and the St Vincent de Paul sometimes helped them out. That particular Christmas there was no money for presents and the kids knew it. Freddy, being the oldest, felt bad for all of them. On the day, the VdeP arrived at the door with a present for each child. Freddy was amazed. He thought about somebody rich (in comparison to him) caring enough for total strangers that they donated money to make this happen for him and his family. It really meant something to him. And when he became rich he always cared about others and looked after people as much as he could. Kindness is contagious.

True story if you’re wondering.

Acts of kindness matter. They nourish our souls whether we are the giver or the recipient.

One teeny caveat with this is that the intention of the giver does matter as well as the ability to receive. If kindness or charity is given with any trace of superiority or condescension it takes the good out of it. We sense other people’s intention accurately, if unconsciously. There have been many fine examples of condescending charity from religious people and institutions among others with intentions running something like this: ‘I’m giving this to you and it shows how much better than you I am morally/ financially/ as a person’. You can keep those gifts darling, we don’t need them.

Real gifts matter. Human to human. They are mostly intangible. Love, laughter, a hug, a smile, support, security, a kind word and so on. It’s the way we treat each other every day that makes life heaven or hell. You affect everyone in your life every day and that ripples out. Every act of kindness makes the world a little better for all of us. Every act of violence makes it a little worse for all of us. My suggestion is you act according to the kind of world you want to live in.

For those of you who feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of problems in the world and feel one person can’t make a difference – relax.  You might think that doing one tiny thing to make life better for yourself or someone else doesn’t count, it’s too small to make a difference. But that’s wrong, just imagine for a second what 7 billion tiny acts of kindness looks like. Impressive isn’t it?

Your job is to give of yourself when it feels good to you and in the way that feels right for you. Not to be a martyr or a doormat – because you are worth treating with kindness too. Everything kind thing you think, say and do matters, it really does make the world a better place. Thank you. We need you.



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