When there is a choice between love and kindness, (offering or receiving them, I mean), when there is a choice, kindness seems preferable. Love has alternative meanings and the context has to signify which one is intended. The word "love" can fill the heart with something close to terror as well as with warmth and desire. Divine love and human love have different motives and conclusions. Different stories attend them. Kindness on the other hand is neither complex nor ambiguous. It is often spontaneous and instinctive. It is utterly human, a distinctive quality of humanity of which humanity should be proud. In the early hours of the morning it is kindness I pursue.
As an exercise I try to imagine what it is like to be someone else. From the inside. Someone I may dislike or despise. Someone utterly evil perhaps. To understand, then, the feelings, urges, aspirations and hopes of an alien and unsympathetic personality What sense of justice rules his actions or moral force drives them? It is hard work. I have only just began, but I can see that it is going to be hard work
The meanings of love are so wide ranging I feel they should be separated out into broad categories, given bracketed numbers and used according. Thus: "I love(5) jambalaya but I love(2) Susan Sarandon."
Kindness, I suppose, can be practised as a kind of act of will, even towards people one doesn't much like, or finds it hard not to be impatient with, or can't really understand. I think it's not unrelated to your imaginative act of putting of yourself in another person's skin; 'kind' is the same word, of course, as it is in 'of a kind', 'kindred'. Sometimes though, too much willing oneself to be kind to people one doesn't feel kindly disposed too can backfire in all kinds of ways, not least from the demons that can step out of one's own shadow!
Still, the pursuit of kindness is something to be sought above all else.
But there is also, best of all, a loving kindness, a matter of grace not will, perhaps. But I don't suppose I need to tell you much about that.
Kindness seems more gentle.
I must read again Arendt's A Report on the Banality of Evil in which she wrote about her attempt to understand Eichmann.
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