The Complexity of Kindness

The Complexity of Kindness

One of the most difficult lessons I have learned in life is the unwanted consequences that kindness can bring.

The man who assaulted me when I was seven years old was somewhat of a local outcast. He was living with a learning disability, which sadly made him a target. Others in the neighborhood would often torment and bully him in a convoluted attempt to make themselves feel more profound.

Even as a young child it bothered me that people were mean to him. I wasn’t overly -friendly, but I was never unkind.

This backfired when he used it as an excuse to follow me around, to get as close to me as possible. I didn’t know then what boundaries were. Truthfully, I still struggle with them.

But back then especially, I was just trying to make someone feel better when nobody else seemed to care.

I don’t bring him up very often.

On the rare occasion that I have talked about him, I attempt to rationalize his actions because of his disability. My therapist is quick to tell me that he still knew right from wrong. That what he did was inexcusable, regardless of his IQ or vulnerabilities.

I know this is true, but the part of me that despises suffering still invents excuses. Looks for the “why” it happened rather than focusing on the fact that it never should have.

I still have this enormous need to help those that cannot easily defend themselves.

Attempting to be the advocate for others that I never knew I needed.

As an adult there have been numerous times in my life when showing compassion has landed me in situations where I have unintentionally invited in the bad while trying to do good.

I don’t ever want to be the person who cannot lend a hand when someone is hurting and in need of a bit of human decency, but I do hope that there comes a day when kindness doesn’t so easily align with fear.

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