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A few years ago I went to visit an old, dear friend at his place of business. His office was adorned with mementos and books, papers and computer hardware, and the material furnishings of a successful leader - as our society defines it. Prominently displayed on the wall behind his desk was a sign, "Don't Confuse Kindness With Weakness." From the moment I saw that sign I knew how true the saying was.

My friend is a very kind person in a powerful position. I, along with everyone I know who knows him, sing his praises. We've been friends since high school and his kind demeanor has been one of his defining characteristics. Yet...everyone also knows that he is far from a weak person - either physically or mentally.

Societies tend to equate kindness with weakness. That...is a dangerous thing to do. One can certainly be both, as we all know. Anyone who has practiced the martial arts realizes that both attributes are part of the same concept. They are elements of the yin and yang of life. Delve deep into kindness and you will see strength. It is not always "easy" to be kind. In fact...some people may argue that being cruel, harsh, mean, and negative take a lot less effort. Of course, they also mask insecurity and other negative issues that the "cruel person" may have.

When one thinks about kindness, what comes to mind? Usually it's acts of giving, caring, and helping those less fortunate or those in need of "goodness" at a time of difficulty, stress or hardship. Helping takes strength. Putting aside one's own desires to give to another takes a certain fortitude that is absent in those who don't or won't. Take some time to research those individuals highlighted by our societies as examples of strength and kindness. Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and so many others. I don't think anyone can say that these individuals, or people like them, lacked strength of character or did not show kindness towards others - even though they endured great hardship.

It is not unusual for some people to castigate the kind as "bleeding hearts" or individuals who are "easily taken advantage of." While that may be the case to some degree. It is people with those attributes who show society the strength to love - when others may be indifferent, care - when others ridicule, help - when others turn their back, and teach that those in need can depend on someone and then also illustrate their teaching by doing - when others (often those who protest that help the loudest) do not have the strength to support the "needy."

So...as you go through this life - make sure you never, ever, confuse kindness with weakness. Inevitably the winds of change may put you in a position when you will need a strong, kind person to help you navigate through a storm during your time here on Earth. It is then (if you do not already know this) that you will realize how strong the kind really are.