About kindness

‘The tender gravity of kindness’

Footpath exhortation, Avondale / Kennedy Warne

In January I was thinking about angels. Lately I have been thinking about kindness. Most of us have, I suppose. It’s in the air, contagious in a good way, an antidote to fear. I commented on the kindness of strangers in my recent chat with Kathryn Ryan on Radio NZ, talking about the walks I make beside my local creek:

One of the things that is so noticeable now is kindness. At Oakley Creek the path is only a metre wide. As people approach each other they step to the left and to the right. We smile and raise a hand and say a greeting. Bridges that were two-lane at a squeeze are now one-way. I wait for two young people to cross. One runs the last few steps and we laugh together. This is the decency of strangers. In Albert Camus’ book La Peste, or The Plague (so popular right now that it has sold out on Amazon) the heroic Dr Rieux says: “The only way to fight the plague is with decency.” That’s what seems to be happening with this current plague. Perhaps it will be one of the abiding memories of this time. He waka eke noa. We’re all in this together.

Here are three poems on the subject of kindness. Perhaps, as Naomi Shihab Nye writes in the first poem, kindness is the only thing that makes sense any more.

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