"Strength isn't the absence of kindness, but the presence of it despite of the circumstances or situations. It’s holding your head high when life is punching you in the face and kicking your kneecaps. It’s smiling at someone that just cut you off on the highway, or hugging someone that cursed you out last week because they are going through this week. Strength however isn't meek, gullible, pity, foolish, or stupid. A strong person will smile and help you get where you need to go, but they will not give you $20 if you owe them $250 from small loans over the past few months. Understand strength and be strong, but don't allow yourself to be taken advantage of under the guise of kindness." -Patrick Irvine.
Okay another story here, I was out and about through the city with a friend of mine and she was telling me about how people always take her kindness for weakness, she wished to gain strength but she wanted to do it by riding herself of kindness. It struck a chord with me because my memory flashed of all the times that I have heard that line from women, either on face book, in passing conversations, or in one on one conversation. I have heard parents teaching their children this, and it has become ingrained in certain cultures.
I have always found this one interesting; it’s like the quotes from the bad guys in the movies. You know, as he gains the upper hand and he begins to lecture the good guy about why he’s losing he will normally say something like, “Your kindness and concern for others is your weakness. You will never defeat me because you lack the strength that comes from anger and hate. You allow yourself to be taken advantage of; you worry about others even now, pathetic.” The interesting part to all of this is that people often forget what happens next. Good triumphs over evil normally in the form of a friend coming to the rescue in the most unlikely of ways. That being said, why is it that most people think like the villain in that they believe that they have to be an asshole to be strong.
Being cold and hard is nothing but the easy way out, it’s easy to go from one extreme to the next, and it’s easy to either always say yes or always say no. It becomes a pattern, it eliminates the need for thought, and it almost becomes a reflex one way or the other. It puts you in a nice little comfort zone, strength requires balance and balance is difficult. But strength is more than just dealing with other people; it is also required when dealing with you. Life is rough and it doesn’t play fair all the time, strength of character is required to keep going unchanged by life but changing life to fit your will. It’s very easy to give up; it’s extremely difficult to keep going after being hit by 5 pitches in a row.
The same strength you use to mold your life should also be used to mold your dealings with other people. Smile when they are mad; cry when they cry, be a real friend to them when they need one. In one instance you are the opposite, in the other instance you are the same, and in yet another instance, you may need to be harsh with them. That is strength in a relationship, analyzing the situation and provided the appropriate response to elevate the other party above what is currently troubling them. But that requires constant growth as well because you can’t elevate someone to a level higher than your own.
You could almost say strength is kindness; the belief that kindness is nice is a flawed belief. If you have a friend that has a gambling problem and you fund a trip to a casino then you are not being kind or considerate to that friend. The kind thing to do would be to help your friend address their gambling problem. If you are going out with some friends and one of your friends is wearing something they really shouldn’t be wearing, the kind thing to do would be to let them know that. Both instances require a level of strength which to most wouldn’t necessarily be viewed as kind until you look at the overall picture. Kindness is interchangeable with helpful, and sometimes the helpful thing isn’t always the “nice” thing.
If your goal is to be strong, then your goal is to be kind, considerate, and caring. Your goal is essentially to be helpful to those around you, giving them what they need and not what they want if want they want is detrimental to them.