The above pic is of Sully, the service dog who belonged to President George H.W. Bush.
On August 19, 1988, George H.W. Bush received the Republican party’s nomination for President of the United States. In his acceptance speech, he called for a “kinder, gentler, nation.”
On November 30, 2018, “43” (George W. Bush), in a phone call, said to his dad, “41,” “I love you.” And President George H.W. Bush replied, “I love you, too.” And those were the last words he ever spoke.
Our 41st President led the country, led his family, led his own life, with kindness. Sure, there were moments of unkindness. In the final days of the 1992 campaign, President Bush, running for re-election, unleased this remark against candidate Bill Clinton and his running mate Al Gore, “My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos.”
The voters didn’t buy it. Clinton beat Bush 43% to 37%. Third-party candidate Ross Perot swung the election with 19% of the vote.
But kindness prevailed. In a handwritten note to Clinton dated January 20, 1993, Bush wrote, “You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good Luck – George”
Kindness and humility. General Colin Powell said of President Bush (41), “…He was a man of great humility. He was humble.” “Bush,” he added, “was a product of his parents, who told him, you know, ‘Don’t show off George; just always remember, you’re humble, you work for people, you serve people.’”
His parents’ teaching took. Bush was so self-effacing that he hated to use the personal pronoun. “Don’t be talking about yourself,” his mother instructed him.
Maybe humility and kindness are teammates. Maybe my failure or refusal to show kindness reflects the pride in my heart – a sense that I’m better than others and that they deserve to be treated unkindly. I mean if they didn’t deserve it, I wouldn’t treat them unkindly, would I? At least that’s how we justify our unkindness. Unkindness and put downs go hand in hand.
“Kindness” is a spiritual trait. It is used over and over again in the New Testament:
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be the children of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and evil” (Luke 6:35).
“…and be kind to one another, tenderhearted…” (Ephesians 4:32).
“clothes yourselves with kindness…” (Colossians 3:12).
“Love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Jesus’ yoke is called “chrestos” (the Greek word for “kind”), in Matthew 11:30: “For my yoke is easy (kind)…” It does not chafe. It does not irritate. No splinters, no callouses from Jesus’ yoke.
W.E. Vine defines “chrestos” as “mild, pleasant, in contrast to what is harsh, sharp, bitter.”
Kindness needs to be the calling-card for Christ-followers.
Kindness, though, crosses all religions. Kindness knows no race, religion or gender.
It is universal. It is internal.
Christians call this the indwelling of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Buddhists call this maitri – a kindness to oneself that then leads to a kindness toward others.
Take a close look at rude, unkind people. What we might see behind their bullying behavior is a deeply insecure person. People with low self-esteem often hide their own insecurities behind a mask of superiority and meanness.
Maybe we need to be kinder to ourselves before we are kind to others?
Meditation helps me do this. In meditation, I can sense God’s love and kindness to me (In Loving-kindness Jesus Came).
From that place of kindness within my spirit, I can embrace in concentric circles, in ripples of kindness, those that I love dearly and deeply, casual friends, strangers, then finally, I can let that ripple include someone who has hurt me.
All can be objects of the kindness that resides in the spirit within – in my true self.
It’s Christmas time. The season of giving and all of that. If you’re looking for ideas on what to give, here’s one:
“Kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give.”
Thank you President Bush 41 for the ripple of kindness.