Stories of Kindness from Around the World

David Copperfield on Kindness

--by singlestep, posted Jul 12, 2008
I believe in kindness.

But it's hard to be kind. We're not trained for it. Kindness is for sissies; we learn that early. "Nice guys finish last." If they even get invited to the race. Kindness is taken for weakness, rube-ishness, stupidity. No one seems to respect the kind. They respect the killer. We're taught to value competitiveness, strength, cunning, Darwin.

I work in the entertainment business, where kindness just never seems to be "in." It's not macho. It doesn't sell tickets. In the movies, the hero never kills the bad guy with kindness. But I believe Economics 101 is right. The value of a thing is determined by its scarcity. Which makes kindness spiritual gold.

I am writing these words a few weeks after my father's death. He was a fervent Republican. He preached an eye for an eye. He was a hawk. But he practiced kindness to everyone, including people he didn't know and people he knew too well. My father wanted to be an actor. He traded his dream for solid middle-class security, a beautiful wife and a son.

For my father, being kind was natural. He had a gift for it. I have to really work at it. I love competing and winning, conquest -- not words you usually associate with kindness.

As I became successful -- famous, even -- my father wasn't jealous. He basked in it. He and my mom came with me everywhere I toured. I'd always stop and introduce him to the audience, and he'd stand and bow. Afterwards, he'd sign autographs. I knew he loved getting the attention.

Only recently did I understand that he loved giving attention as well. He loved the chance to be kind to the thousands of people who came up to him. He drew strength and vitality from that chance to be nice. The chance to learn that gift was, more than anything, his legacy to me. He showed me that kindness doesn't have to be dramatic. It can be very small. It's something that's not expected and that's offered absolutely gratis, no strings -- like an act of friendship. Now, the memories that hold the most peace for me are of kindness, of my dad offering it to strangers.

With my dad's passing, I've resolved to make life more about those moments. My dad taught me that what you do counts. For me, that has to be about being kind, despite the odds. I believe in kindness, plain and simple.

[Originally by David Copperfield on NPR's This I Believe]

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Readers Comments

makethemsmile wrote: what goes around comes around,you will reap your reward in due season.thanks.i care.
sunshine360 wrote: Thank you for letting me read your story it touch me alot,my sister passed away and i just started not caring about anyone feels. this story open my eyes and i thank you so much for sharing it with me. GOD Bless.
Mangala wrote:
So nice to read this story after the News on TV, where Somalians starve and Iraqians are gunned down. It helps to balance in your mind what is happening in the world: people are also kind and good and caring.
grammagussie wrote: Very inspiring.Thanks for sharing.
Kim wrote: A kind person will never be forsaken on earth even if he died his kindness and his name will be mentioned as we are hearing about DAVID'S FATHER
lovebug wrote: Thank you for posting this, I believe there is no magic in kindness, it is indeed plain and very simple
maer wrote: This inspired me. Thanks for sharing it. Keep smiling...
Pat wrote: Parents are always there to show us the right way to be. Just by watching them we learn.
Norman wrote: Great lesson and the Economic version really makes it a great reading. Thanks for sharing and for the lessons.
londonfog wrote: thanks for reminding us all what kindness is all about, Sometimes in this day and age it is easy to forget to be kind.There is so much,( i don.t know), nastiness in the world today. Thanks again and i promise to be kinder to those around me.
Your father must have been a terrific man and a great influence to those around him.

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