Kindness. It is amazingly simple to practice. It avoids so much suffering. Yet I’ve seen so little of it as of late. Especially surprising given the season.

If Justine Sacco had practiced kindness, would she have been more mindful of how hurtful her words may be? If those who read those words had practiced kindness in their response, would she have lost her job or had the opportunity to learn and, thus, be even better at it?

If those on the Angry Mac Bastards podcast had practiced kindness in their constructive criticism of Aaron Vegh’s webpage, would he have had the opportunity to make it better? If the response from Aaron and others who took umbrage would have been that of kindness, would there have been opportunity for all to understand a way to communicate disagreements better?

These are just two recent and raw examples of cases where I really think that kindness and compassion displayed by either side would have helped. Instead, we have people who have lost their jobs or felt forced to shutter something they enjoyed. And, the hurt feelings, anger, and feeling of having been attacked remain on all sides.

And, here’s a little secret I’m going to tell you — kindness in the face of an adversary immediately gives you, the kind practitioner, the upper hand. It often throws those gripped by anger off balance. It often diffuses the tension. It puts one in a position of power to effect positive change. And, even if it fails to do any of those things, it garners the support of those viewing from the outside. Who can fault the person who tried to bring kindness, compassion, and understanding into a bad situation? Who can fault the person who stands with peace in opposition to aggression? Who really has the moral power and respect of others — one who takes up arms against another or one who lays theirs down in response?

I would argue that it is my practice of kindness in such situations that gives me the most power. So, instead of being disheartened by the lack of it I have witnessed lately, I’m encouraged to practice kindness even more. I invite you to do the same.