It’s your kindness, Lord
That leads us to repentance
Your favor Lord, is our desire
It’s your beauty, Lord
That makes us stand in silence
Is better than life
“Kindness” (Chris Tomlin)
As we continue with our Fruits of the Spirit series, this week I get to ruminate on what is perhaps the most easily understood fruit – kindness. We’re all intimate with this action, through our demonstration of it, through reception of it, and sometimes through lack of experiencing it.
When we act in kindness, we’re showing love to another. But the word carries an additional connotation; it seems to be intertwined with the idea of grace. Kindness is loving another, whether or not they deserve it. In fact, kindness is so moving, sometimes, because it’s unexpected.
There are many anime characters that demonstrate kindness, but one stands above the rest. In a harsh world whose violence resembles the wild west as much as the garb of it’s citizens, lives one who is unnaturally kind. The man in red, Vash the Stampede, first appeals to us through his goofy humor and superhuman abilities. But as Trigun wears on, we come to love the show’s hero because, without fail, he always tries to act for the good of others.
Vash’s kindness is unusually strong. This defining characteristic becomes ingrained in him because of a model in his youth. Rem, the older sister figure in his young life, taught him by example to love without borders, without regard for how others treat you, and in fact, to show kindness in all circumstances – even in the face of death.
By the time the Trigun series has started, Rem is a memory and Vash has been on earth for many years. In an early episode, we get a glimpse of Vash’s battered body – his peaceful intent in all situations has led to his own pains. But Vash never responds in a vengeful manner. Instead, he continually and consistently responds to anger, rejection, and violence with kindness.
In my own life, I know that among my many shortcomings is a lack of kindness. I blame stress, upbringing, genetics, and other reasons for the lack of kindness I demonstrate to those closest to me. But when all the noise goes away, a solitary truth remains – I am the reason for my sin and if I really want to change, the Holy Spirit will most certainly work to make that change happen.
When I was hospitalized a couple of weeks ago, I felt frustrated, bored, and stressed – nothing that would indicate any type of spiritual work was happening in me. But the Holy Spirit was working, despite myself. In the two weeks since I’ve been out, I’ve found myself to be a much nicer person – quick to kindness, more patient, and less selfish. The change has taken me by surprise, and my family as well. And as I continue to (imperfectly) display a kinder self, I’m happier and so are my loved ones.
Although I left the hospital a changed man, I felt uneasy. Why? Because I know myself – it would be more than easy to slip back into my old ways (and on some days, I have). I knew right from the beginning that if I wanted to continue a new lifestyle of kindness, it would need to be purposeful. I had to make a choice to be kind. And I had to make that choice every day, moment by moment.
Vash, too, makes the choice to be kind. Sometimes, the choice hurts him. And sometimes, the choices will hurt us, too. But in times when the pain is unbearable or when we think it’s easier or more right to choose an action other than kindness, it need only take us to think of Christ, who in His mercy chose to be killed by those He came to love, to strengthen us and help us in our resolve.
I won’t blame you, though, if Vash pops into your mind, first. That’s okay, because if there ever was a Christ figure in anime, it’s Vash the Stampede. Just remember, the relation between the two is probably purposeful. So if you find Vash to be as great a fictional hero as I do, think of the real model of kindness upon which he is based – the Humble King.
Note: My original plan for this post was to talk about Daikichi of Usagi Drop, who most certainly also displays the kindness I wrote about in this post.
Other Posts in the Fruits of the Spirit Series:
Love: Honda Tohru (Fruits Basket)
Joy: Sasami Jurai (Tenchi Muyo!)
Peace: Ashitaka (Princess Mononoke)
Patience: Alicia Florence (ARIA)
12 thoughts on “Fruits of the Spirit: The Kindness of Vash the Stampede”
Vash. My favorite anime character of all time. Love and peace! I have repeated that many times over the course of the years. Many have no idea what I’m talking about but Vash’s kindness spread outside of the anime. If I think of him, I smiled. Always happy even with a 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head, even when blamed for catastrophes that weren’t his fault, even while carrying the guilt of Rem’s death. His relationship with Rem I felt turned from “older sister” to first love.
Interestingly enough, I have never lacked kindness but it has been a selective kindness. Kind to children and seniors. It really hit home when a friend of a friend told me “You are so good with children but have no patience for adults.” That is absolutely true, I have little tolerance for adults when I feel they “should know better”. I’m working on that.
Love and peace! Nerdily enough, I know I’ve said that line a number of times in real life as well, probably to people who had no idea where it was from.
Also, I like that phrase – “selective kindness.” There IS definitely something to be said, though, about adults knowing better. Perhaps that’s where the ideas of grace and mercy come in.
Glad I’m not alone with going around saying “Love and peace!” You have to do the peace sign if you can as well. Vash also stated “My name is Vash the Stampede. I have been a hunter of peace who chases the mayfly known as love, for many, many moons now. There is no rest for me in my search for peace. I meditate diligently every morning, I quit after three seconds. In my search for peace, I also train diligently. It is my mission to teach the precious value of peace to the children who will one day own the world.” Why do I know this quote? I’m unapologetically a huge Trigun fan and I have used this quote in my email signature for a while now.
“Grace and mercy.” Absolutely. Two heavily loaded words; especially “mercy”. That comes with being forgiving. Though forgiveness is usually about forgiving yourself for being at the “mercy” of another person. I believe God has the true power to be merciful, it is up to me to forgive and leave it to the Almighty. But God knows so I must be honest here, I never forget.
Ah, forgetting…that’s the hard part. I sometimes find that when I’m at my most angry or hurt, I realize that past pains are certainly not forgotten.
Making a comment in an awesome blog is like going onstage at the Ed Sullivan show just after the Beatles… haha… I usually comment on anything Trigun but I can’t really say much … so I’m going to talk about how much I can’t say….. I’m just kidding…
I struggle with kindness as well partially because i’m impatient with people and the passage in Romans, that the song is based off, connects patience and kindness. i find myself lacking in patience, and so i get snappish as well. Kindness also seems connected to mercy( not giving someone what they deserve) and creating a sense of approachability….
I haven’t seen Trigun for quite a long time but Vash for all the crazy rumors and fearsome reputation, his kindness and “awkwardness” disarmed most people’s fear and caused alot of people to question whether he was really Vash the Stampede the criminal. Vash couldn’t even bring himself to act the part in order to cause fear… I remember him singing Total Slaughter but he realized that using fear on his opponents just wasn’t in his heart.
Haha, you’re too kind. Maybe I would call us “Jimmy Kimmel” rather than a show hosted by a legend. 🙂
And thanks for the comments. You’re right – there’s so much connection between all these ideas. I think I’m similar to you – I’m not a patient person, and my lack of patience goes hand in hand with a lack of kindness displayed to those close to me.
Well I don’t want to you to think I’m flattering you “:P”, the Ed Sullivan show maybe a bit of an exaggeration so… Jimmy Kimmel it is! I was just saying that I had so little to add because you did a good job… Kindness, loving mercies and loving kindness of God aren’t a subject I’m very familiar with… that seems odd doesn’t it? Except for Trigun I really can’t think of a series or main character that seems wholly focused on kindness and how it changes people…. obviously Kindness is connected indirectly in alot of shows but as a main topic or theme I can’t think of too many… I mean there are characters with kindness in them but not usually as the focus that causes repentance… maybe I’ve just not been looking.
Yeah, it’s definitely difficult to find shows where kindness is such a major theme that runs from beginning to end, though there are a lot of shows where kindness, love, and/or grace play a major role in repentance or in otherwise changing a character. Trigun is still somewhat unique, though, in the weight it places on kindness.
I think you have to look toward kid shows, like Digimon or Smile Precure (and mentioned in the post today), for shows where kindness plays so heavily.
Oh and Wolfwood there’s a man effected by kindness
Great post. I’m happy you decided to write about Vash for your series. There’s really nobody else like him in anime (that I’ve seen so far, anyway), and even after all these years he’s still my favorite character.
It’s great that your time in the hospital helped renew a character of kindness. And I agree that kindness is very much a choice. For example, it’s easy for me to be “nice,” but being truly kind is more difficult for me as it’s often inconvenient/undesired.
There’s certainly something about Vash that’s special. For me, he also remains a favorite after all this time.
I’m also glad that you liked the post, since you’re the Vash expert around here. It’s been almost a year since I featured your fanfiction piece on the site. Time flies!
The “Vash expert,” huh? That’s a high compliment you’ve paid me 😀
Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since then. It honestly seemed like it was only a few months!