Virtues & Values: Kindness

Kindness as a foundational virtue.


Shain Clark

7/26/20235 min read

Kindness: Where Nicety, Politeness, Empathy, and Sympathy Merge


“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” - Blaise Pascal

The concept of kindness, deeply rooted in human nature, draws upon the principles of nicety, politeness, empathy, and sympathy. Its essence lies in the warmth of heart, the willingness to extend a helping hand, and the commitment to promoting harmony in society. As we delve deeper into each contributing factor, we will appreciate the remarkable potential of kindness.

Nicety: The Art of Being Gracious

“Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Nicety is the subtle art of being gracious, an embodiment of delicate and considerate gestures that permeate our daily interactions. It is the conduit through which we can foster healthier and stronger relationships. By incorporating nicety into our habits, we cultivate an environment of positivity and mutual respect.

Politeness: Building Positive Social Interactions

“Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.” - Arthur Schopenhauer

Politeness, an essential tool in our social toolkit, allows for harmonious and productive interactions. Its power lies in its ability to empower others, fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect. The cultivation and propagation of politeness in future generations ensures the longevity of this essential social grace.

Empathy: The Compassionate Connection

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?” - Henry David Thoreau

Empathy provides the vital bridge of understanding between individuals. It's a compass guiding our interactions, deepening our connections, and enriching our emotional intelligence. As we nurture our empathic skills, we are better equipped to foster more meaningful relationships and a more compassionate society.

Sympathy: Understanding and Supporting Others' Struggles

“We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.” - Albert Schweitzer

Sympathy resonates in the moments we stand by those enduring struggles. It manifests as the balm that soothes the sufferer's soul, underscoring the interconnectedness of human experience. Harnessing sympathy not only enables us to provide emotional support, but it also promotes collective well-being.

The Synergy of Nicety, Politeness, Empathy, and Sympathy

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” - Ryunosuke Satoro

The interplay of nicety, politeness, empathy, and sympathy sets the stage for a symphony of kindness. Each element complements the others, enhancing the collective impact on personal and societal growth. Real-life examples abound, demonstrating how their synergistic application can foster a nurturing environment.

The Benefits of a Kind Society

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” - Lao Tzu

A kind society is the bedrock of increased happiness, mental health, and social cohesion. Kindness fosters a harmonious, productive society where individuals feel valued, connections are strengthened, and communal bonds are deepened. The myriad benefits of a kind society extend beyond the individual to the community at large.

The Absence of Kindness: A Void Filled with Vice

"All cruelty springs from weakness." – Seneca

In the absence of kindness, a void forms that can be quickly filled with vice. Indifference, apathy, and cruelty can seep into the spaces where virtue once resided. The lack of kindness not only hardens the individual but also erodes the fabric of society, leading to a colder, less compassionate world.

Cruelty, the antithesis of kindness, inflicts harm, breeds resentment, and erodes bonds of mutual respect and understanding. It is a destructive force, severing connections, and propagating suffering.

As highlighted by Shakespeare, "Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all."

The Transcendence of Kindness: More than the Sum of Its Parts

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” - Aesop

Kindness encompasses nicety, politeness, empathy, and sympathy, yet it transcends these attributes. Here are some examples:

  • Altruistic Actions: Kindness often manifests in selfless deeds that go beyond the simple courtesy of nicety or the social contract of politeness. An example could be helping a stranger carry heavy bags without expecting anything in return.

  • Forgiveness: While empathy allows understanding and sympathy offers comfort, kindness goes a step further in promoting forgiveness. Despite hurt feelings or misunderstandings, the choice to forgive is a powerful act of kindness.

  • Sacrifice: Kindness sometimes involves personal sacrifice, which is not directly related to the four comprising parts. For example, giving up one's comfort or convenience for the well-being of others embodies kindness.

Kindness in Adversity: Navigating Difficult Situations with Grace

“Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you - not because they are nice, but because you are.” - Author Unknown

Exhibiting kindness can be particularly challenging in difficult situations. Here are some examples of how to maintain kindness under pressure, each paired with a helpful mantra:

  • When confronted with hostility: Remember that everyone is fighting their own battles. Mantra: "Respond with kindness, not with anger."

  • In times of personal stress: Others shouldn't bear the brunt of your bad day. Mantra: "My stress is my own; kindness to others is my choice."

  • When dealing with difficult people: Often, difficult behavior is a cry for understanding. Mantra: "Kindness is my bridge over troubled waters."

  • During conflict or arguments: Kindness can deescalate tension and promote resolution. Mantra: "Speak with kindness, listen with empathy."

By weaving kindness into these challenging situations, we not only uphold our integrity but also set a powerful example for others to follow.


Kindness is many things but it is really one thing: it is the act of being considerate, compassionate, and benevolent. It is being nice and polite in one's dealings with others. It's the soft glow of empathy illuminating human interactions, the gentle hand of sympathy soothing pain, the warm smile of goodwill brightening days.

Kindness nurtures connections. It weaves bonds of mutual respect and understanding, creating networks of support. It fosters interpersonal harmony, mitigating discord and promoting unity.

Kindness promotes healing. It is the soothing balm for emotional wounds, the comforting voice amid turbulent times. It is a source of relief in adversity, a beacon of hope in despair.

  • "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." - Aesop

  • "We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses." - Abraham Lincoln

  • "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." - Sun Tzu

  • "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." - Jesus, Luke 6:35

  • "To support mother and father, to cherish wife and child and to have a simple livelihood; this is the good luck." - Buddha, Dhammapada

  • "Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom." - Theodore Isaac Rubin

  • "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia

· “Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” - Scott Adams

As we nurture these attributes within ourselves and inspire others to do the same, we move towards a brighter future—a future filled with compassion, understanding, and enduring kindness.


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