Is un-kindness a trait that is so totally foreign, alien and incompatible with Christianity? Many think that it is. After all, Jesus himself has never been unkind and he is the prototype for all of humanity. And there are a huge number of people who are loath to see any traits of unkindness in people who are supposed to be leaders, especially those in ecclesial leadership, and are ever-so-quick to point out that such-and-such acts and words are unkind, and ought not to be practiced if one were purported to be a disciple of Christ.
But herein lies the problem of our individual humanity being such an admixture of human and spirit. As St Paul is so humble to point out and admit, so many of us do what we should not do, and are not doing what we should. It comes from Rom 7:5. Paul saw in himself that similar trait and so do we.
I have found myself facing this conundrum ever-so-often, and I realize that the more I am regular in my prayer and meditation, the more I see it clearly when the situation manifests itself. It is as if prayer and our concerted effort in cooperating with God’s grace in life develops another being of ourselves that sees our works and actions from a third-party distance, and we get insights into our lives from a vantage point that would not have been developed had we just lived life in a carefree attitude. Prayer helps us do this – it develops our third person vista which some prefer to call a hightened conscience or state of awareness.
There are always ways in which we could have done things better. Most of the time, we don’t have the luxury of a time so that we can analyse which approach is most kind, and most effective, and most Christlike before the act. We act on instinct. And that, unfortunately, is the crux of the problem. Most of our instincts are animalistic, not those of rational animals, as Aristotle defines our shared genus.
When I have followed that instinct, I know that it had led me to skip the pleasantries, to discount the other’s needs and weaknesses, to think more of myself and what I want to achieve, and to get things done in only one way – mine. And there are times when it shows how slow I am to suffer fools.
I am sure that some toes would have been stepped upon and even crushed in so doing. I was reminded of this in an anonymous comment that came in my blog two days ago. Someone back in Singapore must have been reminded of a time when unkindness and impatience was shown to him or her by me, most probably in the course of my ministry. I would have loved to engage the person in conversation and find out how this could be rectified, but alas, at most times, anonymity neither allows this, nor does it show that the person is at all interested in any amicable restoration.
It behooves me then to offer an olive branch of an apology to this person. Thank you for having pointed out that you are a hurt person, but it would have helped much more if the specific incident were referred to, to make this apology more specific and a healing experience.
In closing, I guess I will refer to my opening statement. Unkindness is unreservedly incompatible with Christianity.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.