The Dichotomy of Benevolence and Cruelty

Oct 28 , 2023
By Eden Sahle

Over the last weeks, I have been showered with blessings organised at multiple events.

It was genuinely heartwarming to see most materials we will need were gifted by family and friends. I was even surprised as some people my husband and I only met for a day attended to wish us good fortune.

Pregnancy has been a life-changing experience for me. Becoming a vessel and sacred space where another human takes root and begins to grow has transformed me in ways I never imagined. As my belly swells, so does my heart, expanding to encompass a boundless and infinitely fragile love.

Kindness is a gentle breeze that follows me wherever I go. It wafts through the aisles of supermarkets, the halls of banks and the chairs of salons, strangers giving me tips for my well-being and blessing my unborn child.

I have gotten used to special treatment from acquaintances with my neighbours offering to give us a car while ours was in the shop while others took turns in my kitchen, preparing delicious meals to nourish me.

As being a mother has always been one of my goals in life, I actively observed others and knew the challenges and rewards awaiting a parent early on. What I failed to envision was the special treatment that comes with pregnancy even amongst strangers.

It has been an excellent reason for many people to be good to me and the hostility based on several discriminatory reasons vanishes. The free access without making queues always leaves me marvelling and humbled by how interconnected we are.

Amidst the happy moments, many told me to enjoy such kindness while it lasts. They say the unhealthy treatments from many individuals come back at full scale in the parenthood phase.

As simple as it sounds, it leaves me wondering.

If humans are capable of immense benevolence, where does the capacity for cruelty come from?

Our capacity for goodness is often selective. But if the men on the streets who often sit on the side of the road harassing passersby have it in them to utter thoughtful words and good wishes which indicate a capacity for empathy, their viciousness at other times is a conscious decision.

While some may argue that cruelty results from a deep-seated survival instinct, others contend that it is primarily a learned behaviour influenced by societal norms and upbringing.

It is unfortunate that many people have learned to keep their expectations low due to a recurring pattern of disappointment leading to a sense of cynicism. To realise that acts of kindness and generosity are only observed on certain occasions, such as during pregnancy is saddening.

However, the mere existence of this capability, even if selectively, indicates the potential for growth and improvement. By consciously making an effort to extend this virtue to all individuals, one can cultivate a more compassionate and ethical character.

The public's kindness to pregnant women stands in stark contrast to its unkindness to adults. This dichotomy is puzzling, especially considering that the same precious unborn babies who are so cherished in the womb eventually grow up to be adults who are often treated with disdain.

My worldview has shifted since being expectant. I see the world with new eyes, imbued with a sense of wonder and awe. I am aware of the interconnectedness of all things, and I feel a profound responsibility to nurture and protect this precious life growing within me.

I am left to think the public is pro-life, but it is a mystery why the populace is aloof when those precious unborn babies make it to adulthood.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 28,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1226]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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