THE CURDLING MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS
"I fear thy nature, it is too full o' th' milk of human kindness, to catch the nearest way," said Lady Macbeth to her husband (Shakespeare's Macbeth). She considered kindness to be too babyish for grown up realities. She wanted him not to stop even at murder for achieving their goals. However, now when we use the phrase 'the milk of human kindness' we attribute better qualities to it, such as being humane, humanitarian, etc. But all is not well in this area as this milk seems to be getting curdled more often than not. In attempts to become (and appear to be) more and more humane, societies seem to be trying to outdo one another in a show of kindness. This would have been good except that kindness is not something that can stand alone, without an appropriate balance from other virtues such as prudence (wisdom), righteousness, etc. If humaneness is supposed to produce something good for the others, overblown humaneness actually hurts them. Perspectives focussed narrowly on kindness miss the elements that are meant to keep society balanced. This milk is getting curdled. Let us look at some examples.
A child has such a great potential for thinking, understanding and achievement if he/she is nourished, helped and guided to find the right groove. Without such focussed attention coming from the parents, the 'independent' personality develops in warped ways, with self-centredness, sitting on the throne. We now have abundant evidence for this all around us. Yet wisdom of this world advocates avoiding 'intervention' and promotes individual development unencumbered by rules or regulations. Discipline is taboo in today's society and is getting equated with parental abuse. Parents who try to enforce order are tabbed as being cruel and authoritarian. The little dictators calling the tunes at home and driving the parents crazy are supposed to be 'cute'! Isn't this a clear example of human kindness going astray?
Crime And Punishment
Punishment is meted out to criminals and others who violate the law in order to teach them a lesson, not to repeat their folly and to deter others from doing similar things. But what happens when, in the name of being kind and understanding towards the 'unfortunate victims' of an imbalanced society, sentences are reduced to the minimum, criminals are let go for mere technical reasons, jails are provided with the latest TV and internet facilities to keep the occupants cheerful, and NGOs are more interested in the welfare of the prisoners than their victims? No wonder, the crime rates are only going up!
Relaxation Of Moral Laws
In the guise of being understanding and non-discriminatory towards all human beings, homosexual relationships and live-in arrangements are being accorded a legal standing, not thinking ahead of the social chaos these moves can create in the future. It is not only the legal machinery that is going in this direction, but also churches! Pre-marital sex and divorce are also becoming acceptable in churches. We mustn't judge, they say!
Of course, we must make higher education and jobs available to all who want! What better way to do this than to reduce the admission standards for college education? We don't mind (or do we?) when substandard engineers start constructing bridges or carry out major projects, or similar doctors start prescribing medicines for us! What happens when humane considerations override qualifications when it comes to promotions to responsible positions at work? What about 'grace' marks promoting troublesome students, lack of attendance gets 'overlooked'? What is 'kindness' doing to society?
When warning about hell is considered too harsh, 'sin' is an unpleasant subject to be avoided, and 'just faith' is more appealing than repentance, which truth or Gospel do we lead people to? Because problems affecting relationships or personal management are to be sidestepped in view of the pain they cause, we scamper around looking for quick and easy solutions! When preachers choose topics that tickle their audience, rather than what they need to hear, aren't they catering to human kindness gone awry?
All these examples and the others like them give a good 'feel' and 'appearance' that we are being very kind and understanding towards the others. But how about the results that they lead to? Is that what we really want? On the other hand, kindness balanced by justice and righteousness may look unpleasant, but that is the one which can lead us to ultimate happiness and welfare.