The Power of Kindness
Timothy Shay Arthur, 1851
"Tom! Come here!" said a father to his boy, speaking in tones of authority.
The lad was at play. He looked towards his father, but did not leave his companions.
"Do you hear me, sir?" spoke the father, more sternly than at first.
With an unhappy face and reluctant step, the boy left his play and approached his father.
"Why do you creep along at a snail's pace?" said the father, angrily. "Come quickly, I need you; when I speak, I like to be obeyed instantly. Here, take this note to Mr. Smith, and see that you don't go to sleep by the way. Now run as fast as you can go."
The boy took the note; there was a cloud upon his brow. He moved onward, but at a slow pace.
"You, Tom! is that doing as I ordered? Is that going quickly?" called the father, when he saw the boy creeping away. "If you are not back in half an hour, I will punish you!"
But the words had little effect. The boy's feelings were hurt by the unkindness of the parent; he experienced a sense of injustice, a consciousness that wrong had been done him. By nature, he was like his father — proud and stubborn; and these qualities of his mind were aroused, and he indulged in them, fearless of consequences.
"I never saw such a boy!" said the father, speaking to a friend who had observed the occurrence. "My words scarcely made an impression on him."
"Kind words often prove most powerful," said the friend. The father looked surprised.
"Kind words," continued the friend, "are like the gentle rain and the refreshing dews; but harsh words bend and break like the angry tempest. Kind words develop and strengthen good affections, while harsh words sweep over the heart in devastation, and mar and deform all that they touch. Try him with kind words; they will prove a hundred-fold more powerful."
The latter seemed hurt by the reproof, but it left him thoughtful. An hour passed away before his boy returned. At times, during his absence, he was angry at the delay; but the words of remonstrance were in his ears, and he resolved to obey them.
At last, the lad came slowly back with a cloudy countenance, and reported the result of his errand. Having stayed far beyond his time, he looked for punishment, and was prepared to receive it with an angry defiance.
To his surprise, after delivering the message he had brought, his father, instead of angry reproof and punishment, said kindly, "Very well, my son, you can go out to play again."
The boy went out, but was not happy. He had disobeyed and disobliged his father, and the thought of his troubled him. Harsh words had not clouded his mind, nor aroused a spirit of reckless anger. Instead of joining his companions, he went and sat down by himself, grieving over his act of disobedience. While he thus sat, he heard his name called.
"Thomas, my son!" said his father, kindly.
The boy sprang to his feet, and was soon beside his father.
"Did you call, father?"
"I did, my son. Will you please take this package to Mr. Long for me?"
There was no hesitation in the boy's manner; he looked pleased at the thought of doing his father a service, and reached out his hand for the package. On receiving it, he bounded away with a light step.
"There is power in kindness," said the father, as he sat musing, after the lad's departure. And even while he sat musing over the incident, the boy came back with a cheerful, happy face, and said, "Can I do anything else for you, father?"
Yes, there is the power of kindness. The tempest of anger can only subdue, constrain, and break; but in love and gentleness there is the power of the summer rain, the dew, and the sunshine.