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Showing posts from December, 2018

A very merry Christmas and a kind New Year

Our Christmas was filled to overflowing with indulgences of all kinds - rich food and drink, neverending dessert selections, presents. Could we properly enjoy any of it? And yet, this is a timeworn observation. Christmas, no matter how pleasant the times with family and friends, can simply manifest as yet another outgrowth of the need to consume.

It's eminently human, of course, to have these needs. To want creature comforts. To share a nice meal with the ones you love. To have a nip of bourbon and a slice of chocolate cake - what's wrong with that? To exchange carefully chosen, even modest presents - again, is there an issue here?

Absolutely nothing is wrong with any of these things, in and of themselves. The problem is when these are the only focus of the holiday.

Be honest. Did you think about the needy this Christmas? A fleeting thought, or something more substantial? This is not a character indictment. This is a chance for legitimate spiritual growth and contemplation.

L…

A Public Kindness

I was inspired lately by this poem, titled "Kindness" by Stephen Dunn. An excerpt:

In Manhattan, I learned a public kindness/ was a triumph/ over the push of money, the constrictions of fear. If it occurred it came/ from some deep primal memory, almost entirely lost -  Here, let me help you, then you me, otherwise we'll die.
Arguably, public kindness is a highly visible type of altruism. Which yields for us a fascinating question: is kindness synonymous with altruism? And did altruism arise solely to preserve life?

I would contend that kindness and altruism are not the same thing. Because kindness may not come solely in acts. It also may come in the simple orientation we have towards each other, to share our joy and our mutually positive energy. Or to not say a cruel word.

I do love that image from the poem, of triumphing over the constrictions of money and of fear. I'll be taking that with me, and looking for more opportunities for public - and private - kindnesses…