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The Kindness Behind Creation

Kindness is not a word much at home in current political and religious speech, but it is a rich word and a necessary one. There is good reason to think that we cannot live without it. Kind is obviously related to kin, but also to race and to nature. In the Middle Ages kind and nature were synonyms. Equal, in the famous phrase of the Declaration of Independence, could be well translated by these terms: All men are created kin, or of a kind, or of the same race or nature….

But the wealth of this idea of kindness is not exhausted by kindnesses to humans. It is far more encompassing. From some Christians as far back as the 12th century, certainly from farther back in so-called primitive cultures, and from some ecologists of our own time, we have the idea of a great kindness including and binding together all beings: the living and the nonliving, the plants and animals, the water, the air, the stones. All, ultimately, are of a kind, belonging together, interdependently, in this world. From the point of view of Genesis 1 or of the 104th Psalm, we would say that all are of one kind, one kinship, one nature, because all are creatures.

Much happiness, much joy, can come to us from our membership in a kindness so comprehensive and original.

- Wendell Berry, "Caught in the middle: On abortion and homosexuality," The Christian Century, March 20, 2013.


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