If you’ve read my writing for any length of time, you know I will inevitably say at some point to anyone reading my words:

Ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers that you can. Though I will warn you that you might not like the answers you find, and sooner or later you will have to deal with them.

So in an ongoing feature here, I’m going to post a question-and-answer session of mine that I’ve thought through over the last few years. Today I’m going to start off with this question:

What quality do I value most in a person?

My answer is kindness. I could have said love or generosity, but the word kindness keeps coming to my mind first. Why? Because I believe kindness is something that can be expressed in both words and actions. Genuine kindness is without judgment, and it doesn’t set a single standard, or an impossible one. I believe kindness means accepting people as they truly are and is born from compassion and empathy without any limitations.

Being kind makes you vulnerable, and that vulnerability comes from the ability to feel both good and bad. Because I believe if you can feel happiness and joy, you can also feel pain and sadness. Why is that? I think it’s because the Universe likes balance. It’s like you can’t have the light without the darkness.

Another question then is why are people unkind, cruel, and why do they embrace hate and openly scorn compassion and kindness? In truth, my answers are mere speculation, but I think they fall into one of three main areas:

1) Sociopathy: a total lack of ability to feel any emotion like kindness, compassion, or empathy. Normally confined to serial killers or abusers.

2) Narcissism: Genuinely believing they’re totally justified in doing whatever they want to in order to get whatever they want, and in turn never believing they’re wrong or accepting responsibility for their actions.

3) By choice, or as my father used to put it, people who turn themselves inside-out mean in order to survive or cope with something. Again, this is just speculation on my part, but I think people do this in order to be accepted and feel loved even if it means being mean or cruel, or openly scorning someone’s compassion and kindness.

For the longest time, I used to think I was an asshole-magnet. I used to think just because I was the person I am that assholes were drawn to me like flies to shit. Now I’m beginning to see it’s because I refused to shut off my emotions even as I tried to hide and silence them. For the longest time, I felt like my isolation and silence were wrong but now I’m beginning to see that was an act of self-preservation. It was my way of resisting turning away from my emotions, from feeling both good and bad.

Being kind and accepting of others is as natural to me as breathing. It’s not something I have to think about or think through. My kindness is genuine and true even if someone tells me otherwise. And though I live a relatively isolated life, I believe in Karma, or what goes around comes around. Many times, I’ve felt like my whole world has been kicked out from under me or will be, then I either get back up on my feet, or things turn around when I need them to. And yes, I believe that in the end, if I stay true to my emotions, to my belief in kindness in the face of raging hatred and cruelty that things will work out for the better. That’s where my faith in the good of this world comes from.

Asking myself why I think and feel the way I do has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But it’s been worth it to find answers no matter how difficult they’ve been to deal with because the clarity and knowledge is priceless. That knowledge and clarity will stay with you forever because those things can’t be taken from you no matter how hard you think someone, or this world in general is trying to take them from you.

Although I’ve taken a lot of shit for being kind, I won’t stop being kind to myself and to others. And to anyone who has felt attacked and bruised and battered for trying to do good in this world, hang in there. Don’t give up. And don’t give in.

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