Kindness Is A Vitamin

Verily, Allah is compassionate and is fond of compassion, and He gives to the compassionate what He does not give to the harsh.”  – Muhammad

I’ve returned to a time in life when I’m supposed to take my vitamins.  I was force fed them as a kid, along with a spoonful of castor oil, and now I’m doing them again.  The small gray tablets are the size of a cockroach and I have no clue if they actually contain what’s listed on the bottle.  When I say I take vitamins, however, the doctor smiles and nods her head like my mother.  Instead of castor oil, I take a fiber pill.  At least I haven’t regressed to the point of wearing diapers.

From my limited understanding of nutrition, our bodies need certain kinds of nutrients and minerals, from thiamine to phosphorus to molybdenum to zinc and other exotic things.  It’s no wonder a human corpse is toxic.  We contain enough heavy metals and acids to pollute a small lake.  Our bodily processes require these industrial-strength ingredients, all diluted by the salt water that fills us like a balloon.

Bad things can happen if you don’t get enough.  Fall short on Vitamin C for an extended period and you’ll be covered with ulcerating red spots, while bleeding from all your orifices, otherwise known as scurvy.  Running out of molybdenum will kill you, too, after seizures and coma.  The assorted substances and chemicals help you do everything from digest last week’s left over pizza to prevent blood from leaking through all your pores.  You’d be surprised how much your health depends on having enough phosphorus.

There are other, similar elements necessary for our personal well-being.  You need a certain amount of sleep.  The amount seems to vary.  I once worked for a man who said he only required three hours a night, which probably accounted for the coffee he drank all day.  But, without at least some sleep, you will lapse into hallucinations and death.  You also need other people.  The only way you come to know yourself is in relation to others.  Children deprived of stimulation in the first few years after birth never become fully-functioning humans.

Just like our levels of riboflavin, it’s easy to disregard these various necessities.  We get less sleep than we need.  We feed on fast-food.  Other people are a bother.  And our health suffers because of it.  Happiness requires more than sex and lots of money.  There are less obvious essentials, easily overlooked, the same way bodies need magnesium and boron, that go into a meaningful and rewarding life.

Perhaps the most important are compassion and kindness.  All the spiritual masters place love for fellow humans at the top of the list of vital activities.  “Allah is fond of compassion,” Muhammad says, “and gives to the compassionate what He doesn’t give to the harsh.”  Loving our neighbors doesn’t just convey benefits to them; love also benefits ourselves.  According to Muhammad, showing kindness to all brings blessings that are impossible otherwise.  There are joys in life that the judgmental and selfish will never know.

The best cure for a down day is to do something kind.  The most effective way to escape depression is to become engaged in loving others.  If life is feeling empty, try an act of compassion.  Love has curative properties if given enough space in our lives.  Opening our minds to those who aren’t like us, and forgiving those who offend us, is the best medicine for a whole host of things that ail us.

Unlike a shortage of Vitamin K, there aren’t any happy pills that will truly make you happy.  Some give you five minutes of delirium, followed by a crash.  Some make you numb.  Some have side-effects like hot dog fingers and growing hair in strange places.  Some put grease in the gear box.  But none of them can cure the hardships of life, or replace the nutrients we gain from basic acts of compassion and kindness.

Try a daily dose of gentleness, benevolence, and sympathy.  You’ll be surprised how good you feel.

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About Bucky Dann

I teach religion, sociology, and psychology at Southwestern Community College in the Smoky Mountains. I have worked in the United Methodist ministry and in the substance abuse field. I possess a Masters of Divinity, a Masters of Philosophy, and a PhD in the sociology of knowledge.

3 Responses to “Kindness Is A Vitamin”

  1. I think that explains why most of the Middle East is in the turmoil it is in. They have forgotten about compassion.

  2. I’d say that describes the U.S. of A, very well ! Where else do you find fashion police at the grammy’s and sitcom after sitcom of bloody murderous vampires or zombies mutilating people mixed with sex?

  3. It is strange that Islam followers have forgotten about compassion but then again how many in this country show compassion, it always seems to be about ME, ME and ME.

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