Failures of kindness

alan watts the book religion spirituality

As a former magazine writer, I am not a big fan of “articles.” Most pieces call to mind an editor and a deadline both looming large. But for my last Zeteo is Reading post of the week, I am going to do an almost article. It’s a reprint published in The New York Times of writer George Saunders’ recent commencement address at Syracuse University.

In his speech, he tells graduates:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.

He goes on to explain why he thinks we are not kinder:

There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really:   selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

These words resonated with a text I am now rereading, Alan Watts’ The Book. This work basically says what Saunders did in his speech, only with more examples and less patience. But Watts is funny and right, so it makes it all ok.

…the only true atom is the universe — that total system of interdependent ‘thing-events’ which can be separated from each other only by name.

Morrissey, via The Smiths, also said something of the sort in his song ‘I Know It’s Over’:

It’s so easy to laugh. It’s so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind.

This is part of my collaboration with the marvelous Zeteo is Reading. See more by clicking here.


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