Not merely because Henry James said there were but four rules of life— be kind be kind be kind be kind—but because it's good for the soul, and, what's more, for others, it may be that kindness is our best audition for a worthier world, and, despite the vagueness and uncertainty of its recompense, a bird may yet wander into a bush before our very houses, gratitude may not manifest itself in deeds entirely equal to our own, still there's weather arriving from every direction, the feasts of famine and feasts of plenty may yet prove to be one, so why not allow the little sacrificial squinches and squigulas to prevail? Why not inundate the particular world with minute particulars? Dust's certainly all our fate, so why not make it the happiest possible dust, a detritus of blessedness? Surely the hedgehog, furling and unfurling into its spiked little ball, knows something that, with gentle touch and unthreatening tone, can inure to our benefit, surely the wicked witches of our childhood have died and, from where they are buried, a great kindness has eclipsed their misdeeds. Yes, of course, in the end so much comes down to privilege and its various penumbras, but too much of our unruly animus has already been wasted on reprisals, too much of the unblessed air is filled with smoke from undignified fires. Oh friends, take whatever kindness you can find and be profligate in its expenditure: It will not drain your limited resources, I assure you, it will not leave you vulnerable and unfurled, with only your sweet little claws to defend yourselves, and your wet little noses, and your eyes to the ground, and your little feet.
Michael Blumenthal - 1949-
Just because a man pulls out your chair for you and takes your coat at an elegant restaurant is no guarantee that he really loves you. You know this, and so whether he burps or farts over the dinner like some sort of Chinese compliment does not much matter to you, whether he subscribes to the high sanctimony of the right thing leaves you unmoved and lonely. Once, like a Turkish princess, you were feted and dined by all sorts of mannerly people, in a high castle on the cliffs of Scotland. Now, so many thank-yous and sincerelies later, it's the things unsaid, the warm rudities of late night, that most move you and you are wild for slurped sounds of the truly decent, the I-chew-with-my-mouth-open look of the one you will love forever. Whatever it is that might be said for the predictable thing, the good manners you were taught in childhood, it's more and more the case of the auspicious oddity that excites you now, the cool flippancy of the one who invents his own decencies. Darling, I say to you, fall to the floor all you want, I ain't pulling chairs out for anyone. But what I'll whisper to you later, in the orderly dark that comes every night like a good butler, will be sweeter than all that, believe me, something you can write home to mom about as if I were the man who had sent you a, dozen roses on Valentine's Day, or smiled in the pretty picture, or paid you the most beautiful compliment in the world— only more slovenly, baby, more kind.