Father Eugene Hemrick

What are some leading causes of heartless conflicts in life?

One look at kindness and its opponent gives the answer.

Kindness is being well-disposed toward our self, neighbors, world, government, church and God. Kindness respects, values and promotes the development of another. Understanding the enemies of kindness is the best antidote for resolving conflicts.

Three opponents of kindness stand out most: the desire to dominate, resentfulness and envy.

Of the many broken marriages that I have witnessed, most have been because of a husband or wife who was domineering. The result was one spouse cutting off the space of the other, creating suffocation. Marital separation or violent domestic battles often followed.

The desire to dominate is natural. Early on in our education, we are encouraged to be No. 1, to climb to the top of the ladder and overcome all odds in achieving success. However, when this desire for achievement and being No. 1 becomes authoritarian, a pre-eminent value of life is absent: being humane and thinking of others first before self. When altruism, which is the heart of humanity, is missing, a selfish disposition sets in, with mayhem following.

Resentfulness is another antithesis to kindness. Often it is due to the feeling of having suffered an injustice, expectations that ended in disappointment or rights being disregarded. A sour disposition erupts into feelings of revenge aimed at countering the hurt. The desire to pardon, practice magnanimity and let life begin anew evaporate.

Resentment is a dreadful disease because the more we dwell on a hurt, the more it festers and grows. It also takes the light out of our eyes. I have experienced resentful people who could never get over a grudge. They had become sad sacks who lost their sparkle and sense of joy.

Envy, yet another opponent of kindness, means: Your gain is considered my loss. Every time a person is promoted, it is seen as my demotion. Every time a person looks better than me, I feel I look worse because of him or her. Kindness on the other hand looks beyond itself. It does not begrudge others for what it lacks; rather, it rejoices with them.

When undesirable conflicts surface, they usually point to ill dispositions. Their solution is to understand the moods behind them.