April 20

“I learned from this that everyone, even the rudest people, should be treated kindly and affably and that much more may be gained by kindness than by harshness and irritability.” (Aut. 34).

THE EFICACY OF AFFABILITY

The thought and literature of the last years have coined the expression – “emotional intelligence”. Probably, you have heard of, or read something about it. Intelligence is not a unitary or narrow reality. Affability, agreeableness, courteousness imply concern for others, no matter who they are, and a supportive respect towards them. It is, as it is now said with a different word, empathy. And this is a way of connecting with the other at a more profound level, over and above the superficial and common level, and of trying to respond to their needs.

It is that benevolent (“which wants the good”) and beneficent (“which does good”) attitude to the families, to those who are close and to unknown persons with whom we cannot meet just sometimes or from time to time. With this emotional intelligence, other values are reaffirmed and perfected: generosity and service in order to put at the other’s disposal one’s valued time and other as much valued personal resources – simplicity by which no distinction is made between people because of their condition, solidarity which makes one to assume the problems of others as one’s own, understanding through which, by taking the place of others, we discover the value of selfless and gratuitous help.

We may have to consider our sentimental and emotional barriers with certain persons, in some circumstances. Those barriers are concretized and made visible in a thousand and one ways – acridity, tirades, asperity, hardness, anger, strictness, silence, … probably before and now, in the past and at present, you recognize and are grateful to those persons who have esteemed you and have shown you affection gratuitously and selflessly; i.e., without any ulterior motive or interest other than you. And you, for example, what do you understand by cordiality? Do you remember any positive experience of someone who was or who is cordial to you?