The value of a word

Publish date 04-02-2022

by Max Laudadio

I make you a proposal: let's try to imagine a new element. Air, Water, Earth, Fire, and Kindness.
I have been tormented by this word for days. Perhaps because lately I too have not always been able to apply it in everyday life, or perhaps because I realize that to do so you need a lot of effort, and sometimes you lack the strength.

When I am unable to be kind, I seem to deprive the other of the necessary respect due to every man, even by senselessly crushing my principles and trampling on my choices of mercy. In these cases I am disappointed, weak, even not usable.
It happens when I'm tired, because commitments have taken over or work comes to command my feelings. Even when laziness prevents me from praying, and it is the only method that has proved effective in my inner balance.
Most of the time, when the word kindness seems to disappear from my dictionary, I manage to stop in time, and apologize. But when it doesn't happen, I'm disappointed, and I consider it a defeat. It is not easy to believe that kindness always brings positive responses, because we feel something else around us. Social media describe anger, intransigence, violence. And all the other media seem to be moving in that direction as well. Nobody seems more willing to forgive.

Yet, I have met people who with kindness have changed the ending of many stories, avoiding unnecessary clashes and inner malaise. People who apply kindness as an antidote to anger, and who never give in to provocation.
Normal people, but revolutionary by choice. They are the ones who often amaze us with a gesture, a word, a look, full of feeling, but who unfortunately just as often are considered exceptions. People who swim upstream. Could be. Although I think it is necessary at least to reflect on which is the right direction to follow.

My wife, for example, seems to have clear ideas, she expresses kindness in her every word. She is a gift. She and she is also capable of applying it, she comes naturally and with exhilarating results.
Ernesto Olivero also thrives on kindness, with even greater results, and not a minute goes by when he doesn't show it. And like them, I am sure, anyone who has the same feeling lives. They are people who feed only on the good that derives from it, or even on the small changes that they perceive in the interlocutor who is the recipient of their gesture. And they do not fight with the ego, because everything is devoid of personal interests, which evidently would feed it.

They are men and women who recognize their own weaknesses, and therefore accept them in others. Who find in the diversity the beauty of the uniqueness of each one.
They know that we are part of the same project, of the same destiny, in the same world. That we are free, unique but equal.
Kindness is used to make us understand better. To make us listen better. Because the result is guaranteed and this, despite our reticence, can make us better people. In the definition of the linguist Tullio De Mauro, kindness acquires an even further value, as if its origin asked us for its application, and the meaning gave us a reason: adj. From the Latin gentile (m) propr. "Belonging to a family", der. from gens, gentis "family". The choice is up to us.

Max Laudadio
NP November 2021

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