Byron's Babbles

Being Kind

Posted in Amor Towles, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Kind, Kindness, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 4, 2021

I am continuing to learn from my reading in The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. There has been so much talk and many articles written about kindness in the last year. Additionally, there has seemed to be a great deal of hypocrisy where organizations, companies, and leaders would be lauded one day for acts of kindness and be reported for being unsafe the next. Or, articles about kindness is more than providing for basic needs, the lowest wage possible, or most bare bones of benefits. One thing is clear: being kind is necessary and the right thing to do. It’s even a bit intriguing to me that we even need to talk about it, but here we are.

We’ve all seen the buzz word ridden definitions of kindness that people/leaders love to give. You know, the ones that have words like considering, balancing, satisfying needs, fostering group well-being, innovation, potential, and productivity. What? It’s got to be simpler than that. It is! A character, Sally, in The Lincoln Highway likes to make strawberry preserves using the recipe and technique taught to her by her mother. When asked why she goes to the hours of hard work to make the preserves when you can go to the store and buy a big jar for 19 cents (the novel takes place in the 1950s), she says because she can and precisely because it takes so much effort. She explains she does it because it does take so much labor and it is a kind thing to do.

Furthermore, Sally defined kindness as being “where necessity ends.” Let’s read that one more time: “For kindness begins where necessity ends.” Now there’s a definition we can understand. If we let that sink in it’s pretty basic – kindness kicks in after basic necessities are met. Kindness is also a part of our everyday interactions.

As it also asks in the book, “For what is kindness but the performance of an act that is both beneficial to another and unrequired?” To me that puts a whole new light on kindness. Sometimes we pat ourselves on the back for being kind when really we’ve just begun to provide for necessities. Let’s not ever forget this lesson: kindness begins where necessity ends!