A need for more kindness

It might just be the most meaningful commencement speech I've ever heard read. A link to this New York Times article, George Saunder's Advice to Graduates was circulating on Facebook and it piqued my interest. Maybe I was feeling a little mushy to begin with, Fridays have a way of doing that to me.

This is a topic I've been thinking about quite a bit lately. Kindness. Or more specifically, what it would take to make everyone a little less selfish. Because here in 'Merica, it seems like selfishness is deeply rooted in our culture. Or is it just human nature?

So 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.

I have regrets like this. I vividly remember a time in college when I said a mean thing about someone, because I was upset and not mature enough to handle it like an adult a decent human being, only to find out that person was in the next room over and heard every thing I said. 

Major low point. 

Every day on my walk to and from work, I pass people in need of money, food, or clean clothing. It is much easier to keep walking and not acknowledge them, then to start to think about their real needs and how I could show kindness to them.

Often times, it's so much easier to get caught up in our own needs and desires than to consider those of the people around us. 

Still, accomplishment is unreliable. “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. 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

Whether you're in your car, walking on the street, talking public transportation, or whatever, just remember that there are other humans around you. Humans with feelings, families and worries too. And they are in just as much of a hurry to start their day, get home to their families, and "succeed" as you are.

I'm starting the acceleration process today -- it's time to become kinder and more loving. There's no point in waiting. 

Happy Friday, have a great weekend!

Read the full speech here: George Saunder's Advice to Graduates

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