Kindness is another fruit of the Spirit. If the book I recently reviewed on gentleness was challenging, some of the statistics in this one are chilling:
- Empathy has dropped 40% in college-aged students since the year 2000
- The average student today has as much anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950’s
- A recent survey showed that 40% of U.S. adults eighteen and older reported feeling alone and 47% felt left out
The underlying reason for all of these problems in a lack of significant human connectedness. The sharp decline in empathy and increase in anxiety and loneliness seems to coincide with our technological inventions and advancement.
According to the author, kindness is not normal (we Christians would agree –(after all, we are innately sinful and selfish).– it is something we need to cultivate. There are different levels of kindness:
- Common kindness –i.e. politeness and courtesy. Showing basic respect for others.
- Confetti kindness– mass-marketed, warm and fuzzy things like “random acts of kindness” or pay-it-forward coffee lines.
- Deep kindness– generosity that overcomes our selfishness and fear, and that helps others without expecting anything in return
The author explores some of the reasons we avoid deep kindness: fear of rejection or failure, embarrassment, business, exhaustion and inconvenience. There are also many suggestions and exercises for developing deeper empathy in our lives. Most of us would agree that our world needs kindness now more than ever before.
Although not overtly Christian, this would be a good read for Christians. It goes right along with the findings in a previous book I reviewed, The Other Half of Church by Jim Wilder & Michel Hendricks–Book Review. Often our churches paint a picture of good behavior without any training in the “how” of actually achieving it. In consequence, we know how we should act, we just don’t do it.
VERDICT: 5 Stars. This would be a good choice for a book club or small group to read and discuss.
For more on kindness see these posts: