Books for Everyone!

Red Letter Days 2021

The High Hopes of Kindness

I’ve learned the hard way, which is sometimes the best way to learn — to beware letting my kindness get used against me. At certain junctures of my life, my generosity of spirit has been used as a cruel weapon against me, much more often than it’s been used as my private sword of virtue to battle my vices.

One of those vices started to be a fear of being taken advantage of because of my inherent kindness. In my case, the deceitful perpetrator was usually a female. After she’d gotten from me the compassion, assurance, information, nurturing support, tangible gifts, as well as sentimental ones, that she’d needed, she did not dump me: she cleverly distanced herself from me. So that I would not suspect she’d taken me for a ride.

It was that weaselly, strategic worming away from me that, all too frequently, prevented me from quickly perceiving the manipulation I’d just undergone. The tip-toeing was intended to disguise the sounds of the fraudulent feet that really wanted to vamoose out of my life.

That smiling, chicken-livered loser didn’t even have the guts to face me as she walked away from my exclusive sphere of friendship, a domain that I tend to share with few individuals, or, rather, only those who have earned that rare perch in my heart. This woman was, in actuality, a selfish, spoiled girl who had put on quite a show of being a grown-up, seasoned, caring woman.

A courageous con-man usually let me know, straight-up, that the jig was up; he could no longer hide the fact, or got tired of trying to disguise the naked truth, that he’d ’pulled a fast one on me. I could then spit at him, or call him a name, or kick him on my way out the door. He’d take his lumps, not bother me again, and move on to deceive his next trusting babe.

Does cherchez la femme always have to be on the button, on the money, right as rain, and according to Hoyle, every time?

Why does a woman pretend to be what she is not? Why does she believe she’ll get away with her practiced ruses of sweet-talk, and pretty promises that you can’t confidently know — until later — were silvery strings to pull you along?

How can a supposedly mature woman put herself, and her own horridly selfish desires, above the basic needs of her children, even to the point of moving them toward danger, rather than away from it — just so that she can feed the apparently endless appetite of her ego? Has that ingrained and indecent sense of entitlement wiped out any sense of decency?

Maybe such a person is not born with a sense of decency. It is hard for me to imagine a human being, the handiwork of the Lord, being fashioned without the fundamental components that most people work and strive toward faithful realization:

the ability to learn right from wrong, a desire to do good, an aversion to commit sins and to transgress against others, the need to be of service to others, in an uplifting way.

I am neither the first nor the last to have my own kindness used against me by a person who knows he will not get what he wants in any other way, except to deceive me as to who and what he is. The truth is disposable for any person who views everything, including herself, through a cost-benefit ratio. She sells herself, for a high price, but it’s still a sale of her self.

The mere act, or mindset, of putting a price on your head is tragic indeed. That human being extends his crude, obscene sensibility of life to others, and there you have it:

Your kindness gets used against you.

I’d like to say that I am still young enough to have endured that insulting, even wounding, offense, and to walk away from the manipulator with a shrug, and a keener awareness of my own virtue. That experience happened to me a few years ago, and more than once. It proved to me that I am still young at heart, despite, or even because of, that type of lowlife, as she finagles her rip-offs in search of the high life.

It was a wonderful lesson for me to learn! I’ve got high hopes!

That emotional sneak-thief got nothing, and achieved nothing, save for lowering herself, and revealing her immorality. For whenever a person has an opportunity to give of herself to another human being, and she chooses to withhold whatever emotion, or act of goodness, ought to genuinely be granted to this other living soul, the withholder is the one who suffers the loss, not the trusting individual.

The years go by, and the utilitarian user of humanity hauls with her a trail of tears. Those tears initially belong only to the others who fell for the fancy flimflam. In time, those tears are transformed into heavy blinders that bind the eyes of the prevaricator. She has borne false witness so many times to any truths within her that, sooner or later, she becomes the false witness of her own soul.

I have heard the haunting cries of someone begging to be forgiven. And I have answered: “I long ago forgave you. You must forgive yourself.”

Sometimes, that absolution is impossible for a person who has blinded herself to the horrible hurt she’s caused others. It’s a loss of immeasurable proportions, when you must let go of such a doomed and sightless soul. Yet, it must be done, if ever you are to feel the power of your own kindness, not as a weapon against you, but as your valiant virtue that empowered you while you granted mercy to the merciless.

A walk in the autumn sunlight then feels as if the luminous palette of all of life awaits your loving hand, to render into reality the beauty that comes from truth, and the truth that is beauty.