The History of Kindness


Kind in the dictionary is defined as, “sympathetic, friendly, gentle, tenderhearted, and generous” as in, “He was a strong leader, yet kind.”

It also means, “type” as in, “What kind of pizza is that?” or “Humankind” (the type of living being that is human).

Both uses are valid.

What’s interesting is the derivation, the history, of the word kind.  It has the same derivation as the word kin, which means “relatives or family.”  And the same derivation as kindred, which in addition to meaning “family,” also means, “having the same beliefs or attitudes” as in, “We’re kindred spirits.”

The word kind began by meaning family.  It had an additional meaning of people like us, meaning, our kind.  And it’s to these people (our kind of people) we are sympathetic, tenderhearted and generous.  In other words, our kindness flows more easily or naturally toward people who are similar to us, people who share our history, our views, people who feel like “our family”.

The more we see similarity between ourselves and others, and especially our similarity with all humankind, the more kindness we have in the world.

I’ve been studying ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.  When I compare how much kindness was shown “outsiders” at that time to what I see today, despite a pessimistic media, I see a marked difference in understanding, compassion and willingness to help, a tremendous advance in global kindness and generosity.

Yes, we have a long way to go.   And seeing our similarities surely helps.

I have faith we’ll arrive.



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