Charity ~ “kindness and tolerance in judging others”. If I were a Medieval knight this would be emblazoned on my shield as my family creed and motto to live or die by.
As this is not the case, I try to follow it in a more prosaic and less-sword-wielding way. Sometimes I fail. Of the two, kindness comes most easily. I dispense everyday kindnesses like individually wrapped toffees and savour the rich buttery flavour of stranger’s smiles as payment. I take warmth from the human interaction and feel myself richer in spirit. Tolerance for others I manage mostly too. This quality I credit to my Mother’s training, having been brought up to always consider why someone acted in a certain way and constantly working to understand their motivations. She also taught me to question my own motivations and assumptions. From her, I gleaned the power of compassion and empathy and that kindness is not weakness.
I am not a paragon of virtue (far from it). She is not either. But we do deeply care about other people and try to remember that, in the end, we are all people.
For me, the hardest part of that is the “we”. I am distressingly hard on myself. I expect constant perfection. I prod flaws until they become fault lines. I pervert the light to my cause and use it to expose these cracks, to illuminate the cobwebs of my character. On days like these, kindness and tolerance are barren trees.
But, in the spirit of today, I am trying to remember that I belong to the “we”. So do you. We all deserve kindness and tolerance. Try to forgive yourself your faults and failings, even just for a day. Treat yourself as you try to treat others. Be tolerant. Be kind. Be charitable.