Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Triple Sprung
Three springs of kind action:

a) empathy
b) an "abstract" conviction that it is the right thing to do
c) fear of guilt if the action is left undone.

These work in combination, of course, and are to an extent mutually dependent, or at least connected. You wouldn't feel guilt if you didn't think kindness was right, for example. But in so far as it's possible to separate them out, the order in which I've listed them is the order in which (it seems to me) they are most valued in this society. For example, I would like to minimise the proportion of c) (which smacks of self-interest) while maximising a) and (to a lesser extent) b).

On the other hand, I imagine there are people for whom the top two places are reversed - the Kantians among us, for example. And it also occurs to me that there's an element of neurotypical bias in place in valorising empathy. And also self-interest again - for if c)'s fear of guilt looks to protect one's own psyche, let us not deny that a) comes with its own reward in the form of a little endorphin rush - so there's self-interest there, too.

By the time I had finished turning all this over in my mind, the beggar was half a mile down the street.

Habit? Not me, but I have known people who just automatically did kind things, because it was habitual. Or maybe that they came from a culture of kindness.

Kindness can certainly become a habit, and a very good one too. And although it might be preferable to be fully present in such acts, "thoughtless" kindness (that Oxfam direct debit you've almost forgotten you had) still feeds as many mouths as a thoughtful one.


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