Updated: Jun 17
Have you ever heard of this beautiful quote by Ashleigh Brilliant that says, "Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.''? If so, what was your first instinct about being kind to the unkind? Before digging out its very ideology, it's needless to say that this quote has often been taken as ambiguous and biased towards unkind individuals. We all have our own way of reacting to different situations, and without being in their shoes, no one can judge or criticize that response, whether it's good or bad. It's important to remind ourselves that we do not have to prove their righteousness to anyone, especially when someone hurts us. Getting hurt can trigger both the best and worst sides of our personality.
I know it's hard to be kind to those who have hurt us because of the vengeful fire burning inside us. And, of course, it's far easier to take revenge than to be merciful, but don't you think it often adds more fuel to the fire of our hatred towards those who have wronged us?
This quote, superficially, looks very simple yet quite biased. It tells us to be kind to unkind people as they need it the most. However, ironically, doesn't it sound like a foolish idea to show kindness to those known for their unkind attitude? Won't it be stupid of us to behave kindly to such people and risk getting hurt by their bitter words again?
Well, it's normal to be kind to the people from whom we expect kindness in return. But it is hard to be merciful to those who hurt us through their unkind words or actions. Their wrong and insensitive approach makes us experience an unexplainable wave of pain and betrayal. Therefore, it is not easy for someone who has suffered to find any logical reason behind this narrative of being kind to the unkind.
And let's be honest to ourselves, we all tend to avoid unkind people. Their negativity leaves a bitter impression on the goodness of our hearts. We really wish to let them taste their own bitterness for once. Whenever people hurt us, it's hard to hold back this urge of not hurting them back. And ironically, most of us do hurt them back, but often at the cost of being regretful our whole life for taking this one wrong decision! Isn’t it true that while responding to them rudely, we all feel bad not only for them but for ourselves too?
It's important to realize that there is nothing wrong if you distance yourself from unkind people for the sake of your mental and emotional health', but then how do we expect ourselves to spread this divine aspect of kindness in this world? Does it mean they do not deserve any kindness and should be left alone dying in their own miseries? Certainly not! And then there comes the second half of the quote that says unkind people need our kindness the most. Now, that's the point that reflects how important it is to be kind to all, as your little act of kindness can change someone's perspective of how to live gracefully in this world full of selfishness. Just as a candle lightens the darkness, kindness is needed to bring out the positivity and compassion that’s covered up beneath the layers of hate and mistrust within us. If we keep avoiding unkind people, they may never realize and unlearn this wrong demeanor. For the unkind to learn kindness, someone has to set up an example of being kind around them.
Unkind people are the ones who seem most in need of kindness because they are the most estranged from this trait. Just think for a second about why people are unkind? What made them do the opposite of the most basic deed, which is kindness? Perhaps, they might have grown up in an environment that promoted or encouraged their behavior. Whether troubled past experiences, harsh realities of their surroundings or simply a personality trait making them unsympathetic, unkind people need to be treated with some kindness to teach them how things get better if done with kindness.
One big reason to be kind to those who have hurt you is that it is a sign of you having a soft heart. The moment you decide to show the same cruelty as they have shown, you will eventually feed harsh feelings within yourself. Being kind will soften your heart towards them. When you shower unkind people with kindness, it makes others realize how wonderful you are as a human being. You can inspire others around you, especially someone who has hurt you, as to how you take a high moral ground when it's easy to treat them with the same filth.
No matter how badly you have been hurt, responding with kindness is always the best option in my opinion. People often feel bad when responding to people who hurt them with an unkind attitude. On the contrary, kindness is something that gives you the reward of eternal peace and happiness. One can never go wrong when treating others with kindness.
When you choose to be kind over being vengeful, unkind people will be left with no decent justification for why they wronged you. Your kind behavior even has the power to make them rethink their unjust hatred toward you. In fact, you will feel pity for them for being hopelessly awful people.
Are you still looking for a reason to be kind to unkind people? Think of the moment when someone you didn't expect coming and showering kindness while you were falling apart from hardships. That very moment of kindness you owe is enough to remind you why being kind to unkind people is so important. Don't make yourself a victim of this vicious cycle because hating someone who hurt you couldn't get you peace but only makes you one of them. Unknowingly, you become a reflection of the people you were avoiding to protect yourself from being hurt.
Remember, they have been unreasonably unkind to you and if you respond in the same tone, you may feel guilt in your conscience too. They want to pull you down into the same pit of ignorance and evilness, but your kindness will definitely drive them crazy. If not anything else, isn't this enough to motivate you for being kind to the unkind?
So the next moment when you meet someone you don't really like or come across an unkind person, just ask yourself a few questions before making your point. What options I'll be left with if I choose not to be kind? Am I going to get something good out of that "unkind" response? And why should I choose any other thing when I can simply be kind!
You have an ocean of kindness within yourself that never gets emptied, no matter how much kindness you pour out in this chaotic world. Trust me. You can be kind to anyone and never feel void of it when it comes to the next person. Your strength and passion for kindness will never fall short once you understand that showing kindness is unrelated to any worldly gain or loss. Even if it seems like nothing to gain from being kind to those who are unkind, just do it anyway, for the loss and cost are meaningless here.
And, of course, many people around us give all of their kindness to others despite knowing they would not get the same compassion in return. Yet, they choose to be kind and compassionate irrespective of how others treat them. They continue to put others ahead of themselves to let them feel acknowledged and loved. Unfortunately, they get ridiculed for being too courteous or extravagantly kind to others. We may have taken such people for granted, but they truly are the ones who bring warmth and positivity to this cold-hearted world.
Imagine yourself on a bus and an old lady standing right in front of you with some heavy grocery bags, sweating hard in peak-summer temperature. And you see her speaking in a slightly harsh, irritated tone with everyone, which obviously is an unkind gesture. Now it's easy to think of her as a bad person.. However, if someone is kind enough to her by giving up the seat, you will see how her tone softens up for everyone, and she will be thankful to them for this simple act of kindness.
All it takes is just one tiny gesture of yours to anyone. Regardless of any expectation and reward, you can make things better for others. From saying sorry to someone you push unintentionally in a crowd to saying thank you to the one you are borrowing a pen from, everything amplifies the energy of kindness among us to make this world a better place to live, to aspire, and to always be kind!
Make kindness your habit, and let yourself feel the magic. Your kind words can kindle the darkened spirit of unkindness. Remember, we all have something more than others, and sharing it with one in need will only make you happy. However, when sharing your kindness, don't forget to create a healthy boundary to honor your own integrity and self-respect! To become a pushover only to feed up others' egoistic nature while neglecting oneself is not what kindness is. When things go beyond your control where being kind doesn’t seem like a wise choice for yourself, kill them with your silence because that is when they do not deserve even an ounce of kindness from you. But, always remember that while not being kind is your choice, you should still never be cruel.
Whenever you are in doubt about being kind to the unkind, just remind yourself of these beautiful lines,
When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be~ Thomas S. Monson
Aatqa Ali is an in-house writer at Perspective.