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We are all familiar with duty but we call it kindness.

Looking back at my own life I now see that throughout a large part of it, I confused duty with kindness. I even confused duty with love. Both as the recipient and as the giver, doing the right thing always overshadowed doing what felt right. 

I realize now that duty burdens the giver and the receiver, it has an expectation, an attachment. Kindness on the other hand lightens and frees both involved in the exchange. It doesn’t leave a print. It’s weightless, expansive. 

Duty is obedience, compliance, doing the right thing, following society’s rule books. Morality has been entangled into this duty. We now think that a strong moral code is to do one’s duty. When we do another wrong, we know it, we feel it, it’s not a duty but a natural movement.  

To my great sadness, I have learned that duty is always fear based. In contrast, kindness is not something that demands hard work. It may however require courage as it originates from the simple act of doing no harm to others, which can at times alienate us from our peer group. At times it can appear as a direct challenge to the group. Kindness is always being true to our nature. 

Our intention in any situation determines the atmosphere and outcome of any given scenario. If my intention is to do the right thing, the giver and receiver are burdened with the responsibility of being seen. It has already been influenced by the external and is a dead act devoid of integrity or joy. People feel it. 

This sense of duty is an act that focuses upon ourselves. Secretly we’re keeping stock of what we’ve done, wanting to be seen to pull our weight. It devalues our self-worth. Boxes ticked until we have to do whatever is expected of us again; to appear the faithful son, or the good neighbour or the selfless mother.  

Duty allows us to belong in society. It makes us obedient and useful. Sadly, once you believe that you have to be useful to belong, your self-worth has been broken.  

Kindness is in stark contrast. A true act of kindness (not servitude) focuses entirely upon the recipient. Kindness doesn’t hold the memory. It can go unobserved. It’s not showy or obvious. Real kindness doesn’t need an audience. The recipient of kindness will remember the feeling long after the event, the giver will forget. Kindness nurtures our self-worth by allowing the very nature of kindness to exist within us. 

I believe that we learn to be unkind.  

Kindness is our natural language. The Language of the Soul.   


Duty is fear, Kindness is courage,  

Duty is hard, Kindness is easy, 

Duty is a burden, kindness a gift,
Duty a prison. Kindness liberation, 

Duty denies wildness, Kindness lights us up, 

Duty domesticates, Kindness frees the soul,
Duty is effort, Kindness is flow, 

Duty is doing, Kindness is being, 

Duty is a stage, Kindness invisible, 

Duty is brash, Kindness is silent,
Duty is the head. Kindness is the heart.

Duty is compliance, Kindness is expression,

Duty holds a memory, Kindness lets it go. 

Artwork : Christian Schloe