August 11, 2015

Does Kindness Require Intelligence? - A Few More Words On My "Wicked" "Wicked" Old Friendships

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sa...
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If we agree that helping others when they are in need is one of most important ways to show kindness, can I propose, that it is impossible for those who are not able to "notice" the situations where others are in need of helps to offer helps, thus it is impossible for them to be kind?

In a couple of my previous posts I mentioned how I lost a few life time friends of mine during my middle age hazard. I also said I moved on, and I did. However, the recent unexpected visiting from one of these friends inevitably brought the issue back to table, and I just have a few more words to say, before I move on once again.

Despite of my tremendous joy to see my old friend, during our brief meetings, the frequently unpleasant remarks made by her about my chronic condition subdued my joy. To put it simple, not only she had no intention to know what exactly happened to me during past years, but also she tirelessly tried to "encourage" me to be "mentally tough" (even though lots of these remarks were made completely out of contexts), as if she had known me as a person who could never handle hard situation. At first I was only confused, later on I realized, despite the fact that we had not been together for over 20 years, she somehow already held a strong belief that my middle age health trouble was "mental", so in a way I "exaggerated" my hardship. This belief was so strong that it was almost impossible for me to have any rational conversations with her. At the end, I had to think (or deduce) that the reason she held such headstrong belief of me might be also because it's only way she could be free from feeling guilty for her not offering anything during my adversity, as I was always there when she needed (I also suggested this "idea" in my email to her after she left). This is selfishness, and it happened in my dear friend whom I knew since high school and kept friendship for over 30 years, I felt extremely disappointed.

But the real hard, or "wicked" part of this frustration of mine is this: deep inside me I know she didn't mean to be so selfish. That's why I tried so hard again and again, to explain, to save our friendship. Oh how I wish that she was just mean spirited or evil possessed, which could make me to move on by one "clean cut". The fact is, she is simply incapable of some very simple logic reasoning, and her extremely limited life experience also made it impossible to understand my "story". So at the end, I was angry, she was stupefied.

I think, most people are only capable of understanding things that they have experienced, or things under their scope of intelligence. That's why humans are mostly divided by experience and beliefs. However, my experience told me, it is during those times when we face things outside of our experience and beliefs (or knowledge), can we truly tell whether we are open-minded or not.

My middle aged hazard was extremely unusual, it costed me not only health and financial wise, but also friendships, which were extremely important to me back then. I have no regret whatsoever, as I did nothing wrong in my communication among my friends, and I still believe they all are kind persons. However, this unusual experience did provide me an opportunity to learn human nature, to see how such kind persons could do "unkind" things under extraordinary context. This experience also taught me that in most life occasions, there is no clear boundary between good and evil, kindness and selfishness. Relativity, really is what I would consider as a general truth, at this point of my life.

About the question at the beginning of this post, my answer is positive: yes, a true kindness does require some intelligence. Good motives are not enough for this world free from evil. That's why through history we see only wise people stood sidelines of massive stupidity, even cruel disasters, many of which might not take place had there not been participation of thoughtless majority.

It seems to me, that nowaday many people tend to relate intellectual ability to vice, believe that kindness is something independent from intelligence, but this is really not what my experience tells me. I think we should never underestimate what good intelligence can do, what evil ignorance can commit.


  1. People sometimes give advice in order to conceal feelings of helplessness. It's hard to see somebody you care for suffer and accept you can do little about it. Perhaps the greatest kindness in such situations is not to have any opinion or interpretation at all but just to show a concern and willingness to listen to what your friend is going through. I suppose this requires a kind of humility or awareness on one's part, a willingness to accept one's limited understanding.

    1. marty, what you said is spot on and very very profound.
      thing is, i didn't even expect that. i am not type of person who enjoys talking about my hard time, or what i've been through. it was the judgment of my friend (and of some other friends) that disappointed me. and it's so true that their judgment is also a way to conceal feelings of helplessness, and this helpless feeling is also not what i need, as i never gave up my hope that one day i would be alive again. and the day has just come. the fact is, my friend was very surprised to see me so well, as that's not what she expected. life is full of irony, isn't it?