Kindness is Powerless…

Mike Lawrence
2 min readMay 26, 2021

…unless you choose to give it away

I heard this quote a few years ago at church and scribbled it down so I could reflect on it. It seems all the more relevant now after a year of global separation. Each of us connecting virtually through our screens, often in an asynchronous format, where it is easy to ‘forget the human’ on the other side.

The sudden reversal of its structure is surprising in its positive outcome. It’s an elegant sentiment that reminds me of those riddles students used to excitedly bring to me hoping they’d finally discovered the puzzler that would stymie me. I’m thinking of these famous ones:

What does man love more than life, Fear more than death or mortal strife. What the poor have, the rich require, and what contented men desire. What the miser spends and the spendthrift saves, And all men carry to their graves?


It is greater than God, more evil than the Devil, the poor have it, the rich need it, and if you eat it, you will die? What is it?

Of course, the answer to both riddles is ‘nothing’.

For me, the impact of this statement comes with the word ‘unless.’ I’m confused and unsettled by the first half, in which kindness is described as ‘powerless’ until we get to the next word, the fulcrum, in ‘unless.’ And that’s the key. There must be a caveat.

It reminds me of the enduring power of the word ‘yet’ when it comes to education. Educators are quick to add that word to a student’s defeatist ‘I can’t do this’ statements. Think of how frequently struggling learners have said “I can’t… write an essay… conjugate verbs…calculate fractions…do a backflip…speak publicly…” and on and on. Our job as educators is to leap in with the all-important “YET” to finish the sentence. This act of kindness provides hope in learning situations that might seem hopeless to the student in that moment.

The biggest lesson to take away from this aphorism is reminding all of us that it’s easy to think of yourself as a kind person because you do not actively engage in hateful or evil acts. But if you forget to engage in acts of kindness, outreach and support, the kindness you carry is powerless. Have a bias towards action and ‘give kindness’ to each other. It’s definitely better than ‘nothing.’



Mike Lawrence

Award-winning educational leader with a demonstrated ability to enthusiastically reinvent organizations. Geek & dad @techmaverick.