Thinking Thursday: Failures of Kindness

06subsaunders1-blog480-v2This year the author George Saunders was invited to give the convocation speech at Syracuse University. If you had the opportunity to speak to an assembly of students, what would you want to share with them? What advice would you give?

He said, “Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” “

Now there’s a subject! While your mind spins through all the things raised by that question, this is what George Saunders regrets the most:

“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.”

He told a story about a little girl he failed to be kind to in school. He wasn’t nasty to her, but  he didn’t defend her when she was teased. That’s all. But he can’t forget her. So why do we fail to be kind? He said we:

“prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.”

He said there are ways to be more kind, but it’s hard. I think it’s essential. We all need to be less selfish and more aware of what is going on around us. If you want to read the whole speech, which doesn’t mention religion, but talks a lot of sense, you can find it here. It’s well worth reading.

Even with good and sensible reasons to be kind, it’s still so often impossible, because of our human nature. Changing human nature is one result of giving your life to Jesus, because his priorities become your priorities, and his attitudes become your priorities. Not suddenly, but over time, as we become more like him.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor.3:18)


About Ann Marie Thomas

Married since 1974, Christian since 1986, 4 children, 4 grand children, disabled with fibromyalgia but was working almost full time until a stroke in May 2010 changed my life completely. Writing poetry and making up stories since I was a child, I only started to write seriously when my children were grown. My main ambition is to write science fiction, but along the way I got distracted by local history and poetry about my stroke. Taking early retirement gave me the chance to concentrate on my writing. My book, Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, was published in print and ebook at Easter 2012. The success of Alina led to the publication of Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John in September 2013, and The Magna Carta Story at Easter 2015. I am still writing science fiction - a series of novels called Flight of the Kestrel. For all my author news, see me author blog at
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