If Only These Characters are RealNovember 14, 2014

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

- Henry James

What would the world be like without kindness? We don't need an occasion like World Kindness Week to ponder on it. If that would be the case, then why conflicts still happen? Perhaps Sydney J. Harris, an American journalist, knows better. (The three hardest tasks in the world are to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to admit one's mistake.)

Mankind is still a work in progress, and we would be reminded of it any time of the day. World Kindness Week, which takes place on the second week of November, must go the extra mile. It would be nice to start the day with an act of random kindness, but there are other ways to observe this special week. Don't be surprised if the answer is found in books.

Literature is the universal truth, and many literary characters are based from real people. We can only wish they are flesh and blood, but it doesn't matter. They will make us believe that the world is still a good place. Here they are:

Gandalf the Grey (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit). The wizard imparts wisdom during moments of uncertainty. He also provides comfort when danger is looming. But readers will only remember his courage.

Jean Valjean (Les Misérables). Monsieur Valjean could have been a marked convict, always angry and bitter. If not for Bishop Myriel, whose one act of kindness transforms him. Anyone familiar with the novel - and the numerous adaptations - know how his life turns out. It's no less memorable than his former life, but his later years become more meaningful. It's not the bishop.

Lisbeth Salander (Millennium Trilogy). Stieg Larrson's heroine is far from ideal. In fact, she has a traumatic past that makes her averse to people. (Let's also not forget her expertise in hacking, which wouldn't happen if she's sociable.) But it's her upbringing that teaches her some life lessons. It's a set of moral codes, and she's strict about it.

Philip Pirrip (Great Expectations). Pip, the young orphan in Charles Dickens's novel, will found out a bit too late that he's a fortunate lad. He has no idea that a convict will rescue him from a lifetime of misery. He has been through a lot, but he didn't end up disilussioned. No can break this young man, not even Miss Havisham who tries to spoil his chance for happiness.

Tintin (The Adventures of Tintin). Tintin is friendly, honourable, and loyal, the traits that would win admirers. But the young man is an exception. These characteristics often court danger, which would lead him to adventure. Snowy, his beloved terrier, is always on his side.

We are done with our list, and now it's your turn.

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