It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Help ATS via PayPal:
learn more

The Paradox of Kindness

page: 1

log in


posted on Sep, 16 2015 @ 08:27 PM
Walk up to someone on the street and make an offhand compliment. Say you like their hat, their shoes, their coat, their wardrobe.

Now repeat that experiment a few dozen times, and you'll discover something disturbing.

Most people will smile and accept that compliment graciously.

More than a few will accuse you of ulterior motives.

They'll treat those words as sarcasm and react accordingly--assuming that genuine compliment harbored some deep-seated ill intention. Then they'll absorb that well-meant comment as negativity, and let it poison their mind for the rest of the day.

We've all experienced that situation. We've all been in a position where a good-intentioned comment fell upon ears that heard it in a very wrong way.

Fair enough.

Then repeat that experiment, but instead of offering a random compliment--offer an insult.

Now see how many people think you're simply joking. More likely than not, practically everyone will believe the insult, but far fewer people will take the compliment at face value.

Think for a moment about how strange that is. Consider for a moment what kind of society we're living in where a significant percentage of people believe that kindness harbors secret malice. Ponder for a second what kind of horrid world we're living in where strangers can't even exchange kind words without a noteworthy number of individuals taking it askance.

The reason underlying this, of course, is simply because people in this backwards society are used to having negative exchanges with strangers. And sadly, they're almost completely unprepared for a random encounter to lead in positive directions.

This is the paradox of kindness in the world in which we're living. And the paradox of kindness is the sign of a failing society. Where kindness is taken for veiled insults and compliments are presumed to be hidden critiques, our reality is in serious trouble. And we can only reverse that trend by ceaselessly working together day by day.

Remodeling a society is a long and slow and arduous task, but the burden falls upon all of us if we ever want live in a better reality than the one we currently inhabit. So start with yourself--and start by conditioning strangers that not all random encounters are bad.

Strike up a good conversation with someone at the gym. Exchange pleasantries in passing with individuals you regularly see.

Pay offhand but sincere compliments to people you pass by on the street.

Encounter by encounter, show strangers a kinder gentler face then they became accustomed.

Meeting by meeting, show the world that your compliments are sincere.

Then, one mind at a time, you'll slowly change the world for the best.

posted on Sep, 16 2015 @ 08:41 PM
People are clever. In your experiment you do have an ulterior motive, to gauge their reaction independent of whom they really are. I think people crave authenticity is all. Compliments can be cheap (and usually are).

posted on Sep, 16 2015 @ 09:10 PM
a reply to: Trachel

Steve Irwin once said "alligators are easy. They try to kill you and eat you. People are a little harder. Sometimes they pretend to be your friend first." Deep words.

posted on Sep, 16 2015 @ 09:30 PM
a reply to: pl3bscheese

How they choose to react is part of who they are though.
Being insincere, to be fair, isn't what OP was suggesting either.
edit on 16-9-2015 by nonjudgementalist because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 16 2015 @ 09:42 PM
a reply to: Trachel

Being kind and exchanging sincere compliments are things that should be encouraged, I agree. Just remember that a line should be drawn before handing over your trust to somebody you don't know, though.

posted on Sep, 16 2015 @ 10:11 PM
Perfect example of this...

951 people gave thumbs down to one of the greatest videos on YouTube:

posted on Sep, 16 2015 @ 11:25 PM
Nice vid, you're great! I am happy you posted that, it made me smile.

posted on Sep, 17 2015 @ 02:17 AM
Back before Women's Liberation went feral, young women considered wolf whistles to be a fairly major compliment especially when they rang out from a building site.

Then a few idiots went overboard and now, it can be construed as an attack ?????. WTF.

But it seems those same idiots think they can openly admire a man's package or butt and men should take it as a compliment.

I held a door for a lady, as gentlemen do, but was awarded with, 'Don't you think I can open a door' delivered with spite. I didn't hold the next one open and got told, 'That was rude.'

A dear old lady came to the rescue as we waited for the lift and said to this women, 'You are an idiot. It is rude if he doesn't and an insult if he does. I wish all of you new age women would go on a tour of the city, via the sewage system.'

I couldn't help but laugh.

Yes, the world is going quite crazy, but it has been doing that for many decades.

Political Correctness is a disease, a blight on our society.

Don't succumb! Fight back.


posted on Sep, 17 2015 @ 02:25 AM
A few weeks ago, I was passing by an old woman with a walker. Working in a nursing home, I think it has just become habit to stop and chat with old people, and I said hello to her, asked how she is today, that kind of stuff. She answered cordially, but then got a suspicious look and asked why I am asking, what do I want?

I was a bit confused and shrugged and just said I didn't know, just wanted to be nice?
She seemed to remain somewhat suspicious.

I keep thinking about that, how sad it is, that people have become so mistrusting of each other.

posted on Sep, 17 2015 @ 02:55 AM
a reply to: Bluesma

It's pretty tough not to be suspicious of people and their motivations when the media continually portrays negative stories involving people mistreating others. I am not just talking about TV, but also the radio/internet MSM stations/sites tend to prefer negative stories involving bad people. You hear about sexual assault, paedophilia, theft, murder and doom on a daily basis, ignoring the fact that these examples are but a tiny sample of society as a whole.

posted on Sep, 17 2015 @ 03:47 AM
thank god some people still have their survival instinct.

dont trust strangers.

posted on Sep, 17 2015 @ 04:39 AM

originally posted by: Trachel
Most people will smile and accept that compliment graciously.

More than a few will accuse you of ulterior motives.

A significant % of male strangers who complimented me positively just by being there, later on touched me inappropriately. One of them robbed me.

I will probably only accept random compliments from women who aren't 10/10.

Also depends on the place / culture... In uptown Atlanta for example, I noticed it was normal to greet or even compliment strangers on the street without much danger. It won't bother me at all if I were in such place but in places where crime rates are high, it's a high risk to compliment strangers.

posted on Sep, 17 2015 @ 05:09 AM
a reply to: Trachel

It's not a paradox, just a choice.

Some people accept kindness, while others choose to resist it.

This is why it's better to help others and show kindness for the sake of Virtue, Morality, Spirituality, Ethics, not reactions/social reputation.

posted on Sep, 17 2015 @ 09:38 AM
a reply to: Trachel

People aren't guinea pigs.

posted on Sep, 18 2015 @ 03:08 AM
true that

I guess we need to find equilibrium of some kind

natural instinct of being cautious and our inability to trust peoples intention

even with animals

like when my cat sits next to me being all cuddly sweet beautiful soft kittie
sometimes I think.. you little twat u're just being all nice and sweet cause u want ur dinner now
other times they do exactly the same thing and I think is humbling when I know she loves my company they get a pet back. cuddle euphoria.

even insults exchanged have benefits
edit on 18-9-2015 by Layaly because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 20 2015 @ 07:18 AM
a reply to: Trachel

My kindness is genuine - ALWAYS.....and so is my wrath, which is very infrequently incurred.

When I first moved to my current locale over a decade ago, I could tell the local community was "sniffing out" the newcomer to their region. I was going through a lot of personal indiscretions at the time that were causing me great consternation, but I made every effort to put my own problems aside and do nice things for others. Such is simply my nature.

I began opening doors for people whenever I visited local commerce centers on errands. It was an odd way to informally introduce myself, but it's a simply act of courtesy and I enjoy bringing smiles and kind gestures into a world where such small formalities are frequently overlooked by a large percentage of individuals.

At first, I was met with suspicion and quizzical looks, sometimes even steely eyed glares as if they were trying to understand my ulterior motives. There were none. There will never be any. It took me seven years before the majority of the glares and hostility died down, and now such reactions almost completely non-existent, and folks are even opening doors for me in kind!

Absolutely beautiful how such a simple gesture and perseverance of genuine caring can transform an initially hostile environment into one full of communal bonding, gratitude, extended family and civil kindness.

(I understand now why so many were cautious at first - there are a lot of real A-Hole's around these parts.)

Don't ever give up trying to find the good in can't change everyone, but you can slowly bring out the better qualities in those who deep down long for a better world themselves.

new topics


log in