In the spirit of the virtue that has no name, I have been contemplating a virtue that I would like more of.

“Kindness” is, so far as I can tell, a yet uncorrupted word (“love” long since littered with booby traps) in the modern vernacular.


Perhaps the reason for that is that it has a very personal connotation.  One can “do good” in the abstract in a variety of impersonal ways: donate to a charity, start a non-profit, write open-source software…the list is infinite.

But the abstract is not good enough, and it will never be good enough.  No one would be so foolish to comfort an individual in the midst of heartbreak with the news that the Gates foundation is doing wonders in Africa.

Kindness, then, is an act or expression motivated by love and compassion, from a definite personto a definite person.  It is one of the sweeter parts of the Gospel that I can think of.

Here in the reactosphere we talk about Big Ideas.  This needs to happen, and is good.  But one of the chiefest of our Big Ideas is that Big Ideas have limitations: that often what is wanting is personal character rather than correct understanding; that particularity often triumphs over top-down decree.

It turns out there isn’t much to say about kindness.  It is an uncomplicated good: to be sought after more than talked about.  But, lest we forget.

“The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for.” ~ Mere Christianity