Scouts are taught there is strength and power in being kind and gentle. In no way should you equate being kind with being weak. Scouts are also taught that you should do your best to treat others the way you would want to be treated. A scout would never harm someone or something without just cause.
Al Capone, a famous bootlegger during the prohibition, as well as one of the most notorious leaders in organized crime was quoted as once saying, “ Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.”
Although I can’t speak to how kind he was in his personal life, no one can argue that there was nothing weak about the way he handled his affairs or his business. The mere fact a man such as this acknowledged the fact that kindness does not equal weakness means a great deal. Scouts always set out to follow a similar principle.
As an adult, I see the importance in being kind even more clearly. You can almost instantly spot the type of people who walk around acting or talking tough to try and give themselves status. It’s done at every different level of society. There are some people who have a hard time functioning without constantly reminding others how tough or powerful they are. They feel their politeness and kindness will be mistaken for weakness. I’m sure you know someone like this. As a result, they come across as rude, impolite…and the irony is that they do seem weak because they have to fight so hard to convince others that they’re not. True power and strength is easily perceived and seen. It is conveyed without words.
I try to continually teach my students about the power of kindness. The good news is, it’s embedded into almost every protagonist in literature. Atticus Finch teaches us that we should always see things from other people’s point of view. Johnny teaches us with his dying words that there’s a lot of beauty in this world, and we should “stay gold.” Even Hamlet told us 400 years ago “ What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty…”
The great authors are continually reminding us that as humans, we have an amazing capacity to understand, share, and affect the world in a great and positive way. This can, and will, happen in small doses. It starts with a little kindness towards each other. That is what will lead to to great changes. The small moments will lead to the big ones. It’s the beauty of the butterfly effect.
It’s just as important as a young Boy Scout as it is as an adult. It starts at home. It begins with each person you encounter, and that’s how kindness spreads.
I continually try to remind myself of this.