The Milk of Human Kindness .................... natural kindness and sympathy shown to others ................. care and compassion for others.
The phrase is from Shakespeare's Macbeth "Yet doe I feare thy Nature, It is to full o' th' Milke of humane kindnesse".
I'm not sure that we can be too full of the milk of human kindness, but I know that there are times when there's not a lot around. A few articles in the newspapers this week have highlighted this for me, take the Headmaster from Bath who said that if children are bringing their party invitations into school to distribute then they must be for all members of the class. Now, my children's primary school had this policy also and to be honest I quite agree with it - if you can only afford or only want a small party why is it so difficult to hand out invitations outside of school? The headmaster has been misinterpreted by many (one of whom is in my class at College) he isn't saying that all children's parties must include the whole class, he is merely pointing out that it is kinder not to distribute invitations to only some members of the class in front of all of the children. My College colleague takes the view that life is like that and the sooner the children realise it the better - is this a kind view? I think not. Why must we teach our children that because life is harsh they should behave in this way also. Yes, eventually they will come to realise that disappointments are a part of life but I don't think young children need to be taught so early on, surely, if we teach our young children to be kind to others they will grow up to be kind adults and think of another's feelings before stamping all over them.
Then in today's newspaper we have the MP Jo Swinson standing in the House of Commons on Wednesday (she being seven months pregnant) whilst others sat, and apparently a source close to her said that it was "quite sexist" to suggest that the Minister was not capable of standing. Quite sexist? Miss Swinson later tweeted that she was "About to get on the Tube - seat offers welcome and definitely not sexist. But I was happier standing at PMQS yesterday". Maybe she was happier standing and maybe she was offered a seat but declined but why is it "sexist" in the workplace but not on the tube? My eldest daughter who is 19 always offers her seat to a pregnant woman when she travels on the tube, I have never told her she should do this simply because she does it anyway, she happens to think it is the right thing to do. On some occasions she has given her seat and then a male passenger has given my daughter his seat - why? because he thinks it is the right thing to do. Sexism doesn't come into it. If a man was standing in a meeting holding a heavy box that he was unable to put down would it be sexist to offer him a seat? It's a small courtesy to offer a pregnant woman or an older person a seat - a small kindness, doesn't it make our society better to act in a kind way.
Have you ever noticed when driving how if you let another car in from the side road because it is convenient to do so how the driver of that car then does the same for another car further along the road? A small kindness that has a ripple effect - and a little kindness when driving can go a long way.
The other newspaper article was that in which the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says that "Britain should be ashamed of the way it treats its grandparents". He is to say in a speech today that "a million elderly are left forgotten and isolated because friends and relatives fail to visit them". Unkind? Need I say more? We're all going to get old one day (we hope) is this how we would want our friends and family to treat us? If the answer is "no" then it's time to do something about it today.
Oh and one more thing before I go .............. Food Banks. A national disgrace really. Yet some in the media would have us believe that only the feckless are using them. How would they cope if they were to suddenly lose their job and have no income for months .................... you have to walk in someone's shoes to know what it's like but it's not so hard to imagine how awful it must be to reach that stage, the humiliation they must feel that they can't provide for their family. Jack Munro of the blog A Girl Called Jack http://agirlcalledjack.com quotes Desmond Tutu often in her blog and every time I read the quotation it sends a shiver down my spine "there comes a time when we have to stop pulling people out of the river and go upstream and find out why they're falling in" .............. well David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, Ian Duncan Smith - can you tell us why people are falling in the river? If we're all in this together you should be jumping in to pull people out.
A couple of years ago Vanessa Kimbell whose blog Changing the World One Day at a Time www.Prepped.co.uk is so inspiring, called for us all to make a cake for a neighbour or a friend or relative as a Random Bake of Kindness - I think it's time to start baking.