Truth Frequency Radio
Aug 21, 2013

Usha Raman

The Hindu

In a rush to forge ahead? A small effort to be kind can go a long way.

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Sandeep Saxena;THE HINDU Be inclusive: A kind gesture could make a world of difference. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Facebook does have its uses, despite the fact that it swallows up huge amounts of time that could be spent on other (some would say more important) things. Last week one of the posts that I followed up on was a report on a convocation speech delivered at Syracuse University by American writer George Saunders where he spoke of the value of kindness. Although we’ve all had our share of moral science and value education, we tend to put those lessons away somewhere on a backburner while we pursue what we have been told are the more immediate goals of our lives: well-paying jobs, a good life in material terms, insurance against a variety of threats, security for ourselves and our families. As Saunders says, all these are legitimate goals, and we should strive for them. But as you do these “ambitious things,” he says, you should also, “to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.”

Unfortunately, we are so caught up with not making mistakes in our path to realising those other material goals that we do not want to even consider the possibility of “erring” on the side of kindness. Getting into the course of our dreams can be a tough struggle, coming after many months of hard work, competitive examinations and anxious waiting and looking at lists on which every decimal point makes a difference in terms of rank and placement. In this race, those early lessons on courtesy and consideration for others don’t make much sense, and it is easy enough to forget to make room for them again as we move ahead. Sometimes, we need to go to schools of a different sort in order to pick them up again — hence the mushrooming of personality development and soft skills courses!

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