Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness is a slightly expanded version of a commencement speech given by George Saunders at Syracuse University on May 11, 2013.
This year I am reading and discussing Karen Armstrong's Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life with the Book Buddies. (Here is a link to our online discussions.) Part of that process for me is a search for written reminders about what compassion is and how to exercise it in the world around me. When I've shared via social media some of the things I've discovered, I've used the hashtag #compassion.
This entire book warrants that hashtag. Here are a few of Saunders' thoughts:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
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.
That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality - your soul, if you will - is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare's, bright as Gandhi's, bright as Mother Teresa's. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret, luminous place. Believe that it exists, come to know it bettr, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
If I truly want to be in apprenticeship to Jesus - trying to become as He is - then learning and practicing compassion is vital!
every man to his brother:
And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart (Zechariah 7:9-10).
― J.M. Barrie
Note of Explanation: Part of my 10-week plan for summer this year is to read one short, inspirational book each Sunday afternoon and ponder on what I can learn from it. This blog post represents part of my efforts to do that.