Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.


"There is both good and evil in the world, but the line separating them runs not between nations or institutions or groups or even individuals; the line that separates good and evil runs through the core of each nation, each institution, each group, and, most tellingly, through the core of each human being, through each one of us. Cutting through each one of us is the reality of our own limitation. “‘There is a crack in everything God has made,” Emerson observed, and—not least of all—in each one of us."

— Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, The Spirituality of Imperfection

Daniel Goleman on Compassion TED Talk, on how the busy pace of modern life erodes compassionate behavior.

Stephen Colbert on Jesus’ politics.

It is a favorite talking point that the Government should protect the sanctity of this or that, such as the Sanctity of Marriage. This means that the Government should prevent gay marriage, in effect, to ward off God’s wrath, i.e. Sodom. So, I got to thinking. What if we forced the Government to protect the Sanctity of Compassion?

One of the duties of the artist – not the only duty, but a central one – is to impel people to imagine the complexity of thought and feeling inside another person. Art complicates moral action, because we have to accept that other people matter, that their hardship and suffering, even their rage and sorrow, are, to some extent, our responsibility.

Propaganda has the opposite aim: it is intended to simplify moral action. People get to disregard the humanity of others. This makes them easier to ignore, deport, imprison, torture, enslave, and kill.

"In fiction, also, we are able to understand characters’ actions from their interior point of view, by entering into their situations and minds, rather than the more exterior view of them that we usually have. And it turns out that psychologically there is a big difference between these two points of view. We usually take the exterior view of others, but that’s too limited."-Keith Oatley, professor in the department of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto and a published novelist himself, who details the latest findings in the area in his online magazine, OnFiction.

"But while Christ did not say to men, ‘Live for others,’ he pointed out that there was no difference at all between the lives of others and one’s own life. "

— Oscar Wilde

One of my favorite TED Talks:

Karen Armstrong makes her TED Prize wish: the Charter for Compassion

"The Pauline question whether circumcision is a condition of justification seems to me in present-day terms to be whether religion is a condition of salvation."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (quoted by Peter Rollins in Insurrection: To Believe Is Human, To Doubt, Divine)

I have been reading the letters of Paul myself recently and I have come to a similar conclusion.  Paul seems to make a rather strong case in Galatians against religious authority, and the letter of the law over the spirit of the faith which he sums up with “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

(Source: kragtbakker)