Which is Better: Kind Or Clever?

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In January, I attended the wedding of a young friend. One of the guests was in charge of making a video during the reception. She took her hand-held camera from table to table, asking questions, eliciting cheers, recording everything.

When she came to our table, I was entirely unprepared. The first thing she asked was: “What advice do you have for the bride and groom?”

Without thinking, I said, “Be kind.”

I don’t usually give advice because I hate it when people tell me what to do. It felt unnatural, and later I wondered if I should have said anything at all. Then I realized what great advice it is, and how universally it applies.

Be kind.

It’s what I say to myself if someone cuts me off in traffic.

What I would say to a young child angry with a sibling or a friend.

What I tell a friend who is angry with herself for missing an important appointment.

What I would tell all the candidates running for president if I could.

Be kind.

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. β€”Abraham Joshua Heschel, rabbi and professor

I grew up believing it was important to be smart, and even better to be clever, but my understanding has changed.

We need smart. We have lots of challenges to overcome if everyone on our tiny planet is to live comfortable, healthy, safe lives. Fortunately, there are plenty of smart people in the world doing great things with their cleverness. But smart alone is not enough. Intelligence without compassion is in danger of creating more problems than it solves, of destroying as it tries to create.

We need kindess, too. Sometimes, it feels like kindness is harder to come by, especially in a world with social media storms filled with anger and hate. The more polarized the country becomes, the less chance smart has to fix things. Without applying some kindness first, how can we expect anyone to listen to our point of view?

Today, I will do my best to be kind.

To myself. To others. To everyone.

Be kind. Change the world.

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Published by

Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

9 thoughts on “Which is Better: Kind Or Clever?”

  1. Someone asked me today what virtue I valued the most. Three people ahead of me said honesty. I said kindness. To be kind can be the hardest course of action, especially when someone has hurt you over and over. There is a type of meaness in the world that sneers at kindness and calls it weak and ineffectual. I like to think that kindness baffles the mean. They don’t know how much strength a deliberately kind person is exhibiting. Thanks for another thought provoking essay, Kit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Josie. Honesty is important, but so much damage is done with the justification that the person speaking is “just being honest”. Better I think to be kind and keep one’s mouth shut. So like you, I think kindness trumps honesty.

      Like

  2. Well, I think the cleverest ship has sailed for me.
    πŸ™‚
    But there’s still kindness. I am working on that one.
    Lovely post. Best advice you could have given. It’s better than that “never go to bed angry one” or “happy wife happy life”.
    πŸ™‚
    If everyone, presidential candidates included especially, just gave of themselves, a little more kindness we would all be better off.
    I personally like that old line we used to hear when renting videos: be kind, rewind.
    πŸ™‚

    Like

  3. It is sometimes difficult to be kind, but kindness is definitely what we should strive for. Although compassion itself is not the same as kindness, a little kindness goes a very long way.
    Thanks, Kit – and what fantastic advice for newlyweds!

    Like

    1. I feel like kindness is required to achieve compassion. It opens the door by helping us to realign our emotions, to see someone we might consider “other” or “unworthy” as someone we may have something in common with us, to discover that they deserve to be heard and treated as an equal. For me, kindness and compassion are inextricably linked.

      Liked by 2 people

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