Quotations about   kindness

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You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.

Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) American writer, lecturer
In Dorothy Carnegie, The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking (1962)
Added on 12-Nov-19 | Last updated 12-Nov-19
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I was thinking I’d want my daughters to know how much I love them, but I’d also want them to know that being a strong man includes being kind. That there’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There’s nothing weak about looking out for others. There’s nothing weak about being honorable. You’re not a sucker to have integrity, and to treat others with respect.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Speech, Funeral of Elijah Cummings, Washington, DC (25 Oct 2019)
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Added on 28-Oct-19 | Last updated 28-Oct-19
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Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’

Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Luke 10:30-37 [NRSV]
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Alt. trans. [KJV]: "And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."

Alt. trans. [GNT]: "Jesus answered, “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’” And Jesus concluded, “In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?” The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who was kind to him.” Jesus replied, “You go, then, and do the same.”
Added on 14-Oct-19 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
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The essence of good manners consists in making it clear that one has no wish to hurt. When it is clearly necessary to hurt, it must be done in such a way as to make it evident that the necessity is felt to be regrettable.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Good Manners and Hypocrisy,” New York American (14 Dec 1934)
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One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life, and it is therefore essential that they should not let one down. They often do. The moral of which is that I must, myself, be as reliable as possible, and this I try to be. But reliability is not a matter of contract — that is the main difference between the world of personal relationships and the world of business relationships. It is a matter for the heart, which signs no documents. In other words, reliability is impossible unless there is a natural warmth. Most men possess this warmth, though they often have bad luck and get chilled. Most of them, even when they are politicians, want to keep faith. And one can, at all events, show one’s own little light here, one’s own poor little trembling flame, with the knowledge that it is not the only light that is shining in the darkness, and not the only one which the darkness does not comprehend.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Being cruel to be kind is just ordinary cruelty with an excuse made for it.

Ivy Compton-Burnett (1884-1969) English novelist
Daughters and Sons, ch. 6 (1937)
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Good manners spring from just one thing — kind impulses.

Elsa Maxwell (1883-1963) American gossip columnist, author, songwriter, professional hostess
Elsa Maxwell’s Etiquette Book (1951)
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Loving-kindness is greater than laws; and the charities of life are more than all ceremonies.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
(Unreferenced)
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Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Mishnah, Zeraim, Pe’ah 4:19
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Added on 30-Mar-17 | Last updated 30-Mar-17
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Kind words also produce their own image in men’s souls; and a beautiful image it is. They soothe and quiet and comfort the hearer. They shame him out of his sour, morose, unkind feelings. We have not yet begun to use kind words in such abundance as they ought to be used.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French scientist and philosopher
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Often attributed without citation in 19th Century works, e.g., The Golden Rule and Odd-Fellows' Family Companion, Vol. 7 (1847).
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You cannot imagine the kindness I’ve received at the hands of perfect strangers.

maugham-hands-of-perfect-strangers-wist_info-quote

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Narrow Corner, ch. 15 (1932)
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It’s important to be kind. You can’t know all the times that you’ve hurt people in tiny, significant ways. It’s easy to be cruel without meaning to be. There’s nothing you can do about that. But you can choose to be kind. Be kind.

Other Authors and Sources
Beep Boop Robots Tumblr (6 Aug 2016)
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Quoting an elderly lady.
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Be charitable and indulgent to every one but yourself.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Maturin M. Ballou, Treasury of Thought (1884 ed.).
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There are few mortals so insensible that their affections cannot be gained by mildness; their confidence by sincerity; their hatred by scorn or neglect.

Johann Georg Zimmermann (1728-1795) Swiss philosophical writer, naturalist, physician
Aphorisms and Reflections on Men, Morals and Things (1800)
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The last, best fruit that comes to perfection, even in the kindliest soul, is tenderness toward the hard; forbearance toward the unforbearing; warmth of heart toward the cold; and philanthropy toward the misanthropic.

Jean-Paul - last best fruit - wist_info quote

Jean-Paul Richter (1763-1825) German novelist, art historian, aesthetician [pseud. Jean-Paul]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
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Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow
For other’s good, and melt at other’s woe.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
The Odyssey of Homer, Book 18 (1725)

See also Pope.
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When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) Dutch Catholic priest and writer
Out of Solitude (1974)
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Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Leo Buscaglia (1925-1998) American psychologist, writer
Born For Love: Reflections on Loving (1992)
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The real trouble is that “kindness” is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that “his heart’s in the right place” and “he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble. You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues. If, being cowardly, conceited and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour’s welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease. Every vice leads to cruelty.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Problem of Pain (1940)
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No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for any one else.

Dickens - lighten burden - wist_info

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
Our Mutual Friend, ch. 9 (1864-65)
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There is only one way of not hating those who do us wrong, and that is by doing them good.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (27 Nov 1880) [tr. Ward (1887)]

See Matthew.
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If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.
H L Mencken - epitaph

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“Epitaph,” Smart Set (3 Dec 1921)
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The pat on the back, the arm around the shoulder, the praise for what was done right, and the sympathetic nod for what wasn’t, are as much a part of golf as life itself.

Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006) US President, (1974-77) [b. Leslie Lynch King, Jr.]
Speech, Dedication of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Pinehurst, North Carolina (12 Sep 1974)
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Unkindness has no Remedy at Law.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #5402 (1732)
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Teach me to feel another’s Woe;
To hide the Fault I see;
That Mercy I to others show,
That Mercy show to me.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
“The Universal Prayer,” 9 (1738)
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One can pay back a loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.

Other Authors and Sources
Malayan proverb
Added on 25-Nov-14 | Last updated 25-Nov-14
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Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
“The Meaning of Life,” We Are Still Married (1989)
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When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
(Attributed)

Quoted by his student, Harold S. Kushner, in When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough (1986).The following variant is attributed (without citation) to Milton Steinberg and Oscar Wilde: "When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am older, I admire kind people.
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To read the front pages, you might conclude that Americans are mostly out for themselves, venal, grasping, and mean-spirited. The front pages have room only for defense contractors who cheat and politicians with their hands in the till. But you can’t travel the back roads very long without discovering a multitude of gentle people doing good for others with no expectation of gain or recognition. The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.

Charles Kuralt (1934-1997) American journalist
On the Road with Charles Kuralt (1985)
Added on 21-May-14 | Last updated 21-May-14
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The only sin is to be unkind.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
A Thousand and One Epigrams (1911)
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How often could things be remedied by a word. How often is it left unspoken.

Norman Douglas (1868-1952) Austro-British writer
An Almanac (1945)
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The Americans are a good-natured people, kindly, helpful to one another, disposed to take a charitable view even of wrongdoers […] Even a mob lynching a horse thief in the West has consideration for the criminal, and will give him a good drink of whiskey before he is strung up.

James Bryce (1838-1922) British politician, diplomat, jurist, historian
The American Commonwealth (1888)
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The essence of true religious teaching is that one should serve and befriend all. … It is easy enough to be friendly with one’s friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Harijan (11 May 1947)
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A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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A man is most accurately judged by how he treats those who are not in a position either to retaliate or to reciprocate.

Paul Eldridge (1888-1982) American educator, novelist, poet
Maxims for a Modern Man, #1198 (1965)

An earlier version of this quote was said by Eldridge in  "Lanterns in the Night," Maxim 41, in The Jewish Forum (Aug 1948): "A man’s character is most evident by how he treats those who are not in a position either to retaliate or reciprocate." See here for more information. See also Forbes.
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It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than “Try to be a little kinder.”

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)

Widely quoted but without a good citation. Variant: "It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other." This version was quoted by his wife, Laura Huxley, in the biography This Timeless Moment (1968).
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A great many people do many things that seem to be inspired more by a spirit of ostentation than by heartfelt kindness. … Such a pose is nearer akin to hypocrisy than to generosity or moral goodness.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis, 1.14 [tr. Miller (1913)]
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Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
(Unreferenced)

In Louis I. Newman, comp., The Talmudic Anthology, #177 (1945)
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The old woman took the umbrella, gratefully, and smiled her thanks. “You’ve a good heart,” she told him. “Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go.” Then she shook her head. “But mostly, it’s not.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
The Pearl of Orr’s Island, ch. 36 [Aunt Roxy] (1869)
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Good nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty. It shows virtue in the fairest light, takes off in some measure from the deformity of vice, and makes even folly and impertinence supportable.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #169 (13 Sep 1711)
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Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle.

John Watson (1850-1907) Scottish writer, preacher, theologian [pseud. Ian Maclaren]
The British Weekly (1897)

Frequently paraphrased "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Frequently misattributed to Plato. More discussion about this quotation here.  See also a later expansion on the theme by Watson here.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Jan-19
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Kindness is the mark of faith; and whoever has not kindness has not faith.

Muhammad (570-632) Arabian merchant, prophet, founder of Islam [Mohammed]
The Sayings of Mohammed, #254 [tr. Abdullah Al-Suhrawardy (1941)]
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Kindness, nobler ever than revenge.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 4, sc. 3, l. 129 (1599)
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He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Micah 6:8 (NIV)

  • KJV: "He hath shewed thee, O man what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
  • NRSV: "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Dec-15
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