Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing


on 20/04/2015

Today my guest is the amazing and multitalented Jean Gill. This is her post on the topic of Kindness. Please, check out her biography and links at the bottom of the post. Dear Jean, thank you so much for replying so wonderfully and promptly to my question ‘Is kindness overrated?’

The Milk of Human Kindness

…Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way…

Any gloss will tell you that, in these lines, Lady Macbeth despises her husband’s ‘weakness’ which might prevent him taking the quickest way (murder) to achieving his ambition (to be king).  I taught Shakespeare for several years without fully understanding this image. Then, when I was 29 and my baby was asleep, I watched the news on television.  A presenter described the conditions in a refugee camp , and in the background mothers rocked their starving babies.  Immediately, my body responded to the babies’ cries and started producing milk for them. A spontaneous response to need.


Years later, a UN worker told me of a real scene where an emaciated refugee arrived with her baby at a camp and one of the mothers already there, a complete stranger, took the baby and began to breast-feed. This is what ‘the milk of human kindness’ means at its simplest and most beautiful.
Shakespeare wants to shock us when Lady Macbeth says she would rather ‘pluck her baby from the nipple’ and ‘dash his brains out’ than be as weak as she thinks her husband. So Macbeth conquers his own kindness, acts ‘like a man’ – and loses his humanity.


There are still those who equate kindness with weakness and it seems to me that the wealthier people are, the more they expect payment for everything they do. Maybe that’s how they became ‘rich’ I tell myself but I do not value whatever they think they have. The poorest communities in the world never lose their humanity, give hospitality and presents freely, offer kindness to strangers. Yes but what do they get in return? If you have to ask the question, then you are poor. Those of us who have received the kindness of strangers have been given treasure that can never be stolen. Treasure that makes us want to do likewise.

Jean Gill

ABOUT JEAN GILL: (Amazon bio used with author’s permission)

Jean Gill is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a scruffy black dog, a Nikon D700 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children so life was hectic.

Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.


Contact Jean at with comments or questions. You’ll find a mix of her work, along with fun trivia about books, at Her photo portfolio is at and she blogs at



Twitter @writerjeangill

2 responses to “IS KINDNESS OVERRATED? – guest post by JEAN GILL

  1. John Holt says:

    interesting article Jean. Of course kindness can never be overrated. You don’t need to a Bible thumper to know that, although of course scripture tells us that it is better to give than to receive. It doesn’t necessarily giving anything that cost money either. A kind word, a helping hand, a note of understanding and sympathy costs nothing. What do they say about smiles. Give them away, and you’ll get back ten fold. Something like that anyway. It costs nothing to be kind.


  2. […] IS KINDNESS OVERRATED? – guest post by JEAN GILL. […]


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