Thoughts on Kindness
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ~Mark Twain
George Saunders gave the graduation speech at Syracuse University this year, and the New York Times recently published it. Have you read it? His advice centers around being kind and, more specifically, avoiding “failures of kindness.” Below are some excerpts from his speech.
Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” And they’ll tell you….
Here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
You can read the full speech here.
I think that it is true that we need more kindness in this world. I know for me, those who stand out in my mind are the people and animals who have been and are kind to me. Kindness goes farther than you will ever know. Thus, seize the moment and try to be kinder.