George Saunders on the power of kindness

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A beloved student sent this our way late last night—a NYT link to the convocation address that George Saunders made to the Class of 2013 at Syracuse University. I loved hearing from my student. And I loved every word of this address.

Especially this, below. Saunders is talking about the importance of being kind. A soft subject? Think about it. How hard is kindness, daily? How difficult to consistently transcend your own self, your own needs, your own Look at Me, so that you can look at other people? So that you can listen?

It's hard. But Saunders says:
One thing in our favor:  some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age.  It might be a simple matter of attrition:  as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish – how illogical, really.  We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality.  We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be.  We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now).  Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving.  I think this is true.  The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”


Melissa Sarno said...

Oh. Wow. This is so beautiful and moving. Thank you for sharing.

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