Accepted definitions of kindness:
1. A behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others. It is considered a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.
2. In Book 2 of “Rhetoric”, Aristotle defines kindness as “helpfulness” towards someone in need, but should provide no gain or advantage to the giver, only to the recipient. Some confuse a gesture of recognition by a grateful recipient in knowledge of the kind act.
Clearly the intent of the person performing the act of kindness did not include any personal gain and in fact such gain is alien to the definition of kindness. In my experience, most formal acts of kindness are recognized. Though, not because the awardee/giver requested such recognition, but because the recipient / receiver may feel obligated to some expression of gratitude. Should the award be declined each time since it may be perceived to subvert the intent of the definition of kindness? Private acts of kindness are most often unrecognized except by the recipient. It would be naive, however to assume that the vast majority of formal acts of Giving are not recognized by a related public. For example, our model is a Philanthropic Organization – “The Drs. Ludlow and Ruth Creary Family Foundation.” Here, we have a large sum of money dedicated for charitable distribution to individuals or groups of our choice who meet our stated requirements.
I see kindness as a parent of philanthropy – popularly known as “private initiatives for the public good”. Specifically, philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. I have no doubt that we meet the criteria to be defined as a philanthropic organization, and our mission would not be influenced by the motivation of public recognition. In summary, we should trust the benevolent commitment and integrity of the philanthropic organizations, rather than incidental volume of reciprocal awards. “Philanthropy begins with kindness”.
Recent news reveals that 14 billionaires have determined to be extraordinarily kind by donating more than 50% of their Estates to Charitable causes! God bless their timely, unanticipated generosity.
No philanthropist that I know would substitute public recognition for one act of kindness. I urge you to be kind, despite the risk of recognition. Many feel that Kindness is an act of God and conspicuously absent among human species.
We should collectively work to retire the latter perception.
Until next time,