Naomi Shihab Nye's Kindness

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“Kindness” is a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye that provides a solution for our society to become more flexible and receptive to other viewpoints through taking the time to empathize with the hardships that we may not be able to understand. According to literary scholar Anna Maria Hong, “Nye proposes that rather than being a random and discrete act, kindness is a mode of being arrived at through a series of basic human experiences.” Kindness is not just a random act, but is rather a kind of mindset and active force that is to be achieved and used through human experiences like loss, empathy, and recognition of death (Hong). In the first stanza, Nye communicates that loss is a prerequisite to kindness when she says, “Before you know what kindness …show more content…

These four lines are important because as the image of salt in a weakened broth suggests utter dissolution and disorder, it makes the case that in order for the light of freedom and identity to seep through, we have to go through that period of darkness. Nye even uses the metaphor of a bus riding without stop [later in the stanza] to compare it to the presence of loss without kindness (Hong). In the second stanza, Nye emphasizes that realizing one’s ultimate mortality is a prerequisite to kindness when she says, “Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness/you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho/lies dead by the side of the road” (lines 14-16). This lines suggests that in order for humanity to put aside traits that make us different, we have to find solidarity in the fact that is our impending mortality. Nye uses the transcendent image of a dead Indian in a white poncho lying in the road to imply that the idea of mortality connects us all (Hong), even if different people of different backgrounds lead different lives. In the final stanza, Nye believes that empathy for others’ sorrows is a prerequisite to kindness with the poem lines, “Before you know kindness …show more content…

Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Maya Angelou, and Naomi Shihab Nye are three examples of many poets who used their compositions to advocate for an ability to adapt and consider different viewpoints in order to help reform a somewhat discriminatory system of conventional thinking. Now just because a certain aspect of society has remained for so long, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily warranted, such as the lack of solidarity that has scarred our humanity ever since the dawn of man. Throughout all 4 poems, the 4 authors share the common theme that being open to growth requires one to be willing to express themselves by attending to the divine mandate that is fellowship. These pieces of poetry matters because in a world that likes to have things quickly, these works’ poignant words remind us that even the power of words takes time to be dissected and integrated in the folds of society. What stands in the way of humanity achieving this goal at this point is whether or not the society is willing to concede to the fact that even the great intellectual in our world cannot hope the reasons for problems in inter/intrapersonal relations. The lyrical style of each these poems, along with their subject matter, help to suggest that in the midst of the suppression of our natural human rights (as suggested by philosophers like John Locke), we are to make our “song” known by practicing love in both our lives and the rest

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