Town Square

The George Saunders Kindness Forum

Original post made by Tom Cushing, Danville, on Aug 5, 2013

This regular ‘raucous caucus’ column is nominally about politics, but the conversations it sometimes provokes relate to the values and priorities that animate political positions. With that in mind, I’d like to invite readers to take a look at a clever and insightful convocation speech that’s getting a lot of viral play: writer George Saunders to graduates of Syracuse University, where he teaches part-time (noble calling, that). It’s only 1700 words, and it’s here: Web Link

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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm

My childhood/facebook friend Christine Connor has blogged something similar, here: Web Link and well-worth the read. Substitute 'kindness' for 'manners' and you could do waaay worse than to listen to her mother's still, small voice in the back of your head.

You're on your own, however, in the cow-kissing department.

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Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I think there is probably some truth in the assertion that people tend to get kinder as they age. Obviously not true for everyone, of course. The idea of "random acts of kindness" also has a lot of merit to it. Being nice to people will tend to result in them being maybe a bit nicer to others, and at some point comes back to yourself as well. Like those ads (I forget the company) where people did little things for others, who in turn did little things for someone else, etc.

I don't think you have to continue to be nice to people who never are nice back. And it doesn't mean being naively nice, either. At some point you also have to stand up for yourself. But giving others the benefit of doubt, and maybe just a bit more kindness than usual, has benefits for all.

I DO think that society has become more self-centered, or maybe the better word is self-absorbed, in recent years. It behooves all of us to think a bit less about ourselves, and a bit more about others.