Saturday, May 02, 2009

Socialist Nightmare

What do you see in this video? Socialist nightmare and nanny state? A creative approach to promoting safety? Or does it just make you smile?

The video shows Denmark police hugging bicyclists without helmets, and then giving them helmets. I like seeing the reactions of people who are not expecting kindness, and none of the Danish bicyclists seem suspicious which is a surprise to me.

Because it seems we have become suspicious of kindness:
Kindness was mankind’s “greatest delight”, the Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius declared, and thinkers and writers have echoed him down the centuries. But today many people find these pleasures literally incredible, or at least highly suspect. An image of the self has been created that is utterly lacking in natural generosity. Most people appear to believe that deep down they (and other people) are mad, bad and dangerous to know; that as a species - apparently unlike other species of animal - we are deeply and fundamentally antagonistic to each other, that our motives are utterly self-seeking and that our sympathies are forms of self-protectiveness.
Most people, as they grow up now, secretly believe that kindness is a virtue of losers. But agreeing to talk about winners and losers is part and parcel of the phobic avoidance, the contemporary terror, of kindness. Because one of the things the enemies of kindness never ask themselves - and this is now an enemy within all of us - is why we feel it at all. Why are we ever, in any way, moved to be kind to other people, not to mention to ourselves? Why does kindness matter to us? It is, perhaps, one of the distinctive things about kindness - unlike an abstract moral ideal such as justice - that in the end we know exactly what it is, in most everyday situations; and yet our knowing what the kind act is makes it easier to avoid. We usually know what the kind thing to do is - and when a kindness is done to us, and when it is not. We usually have the wherewithal to do it (kindness is not an expert skill); and it gives us pleasure. And yet we are extremely disturbed by it. There is nothing we feel more consistently deprived of than kindness; the unkindness of others has become our contemporary complaint. Kindness consistently preoccupies us, and yet most of us are unable to live a life guided by it.
I must not be "most people" because I don't believe kindness is a virtue of losers. Maybe it starts with how you define "loser." That droning bore "going Galt", those guys celebrating greed, and that other guy with the Ponzi scheme are the losers to me.

Right now I'm finding it hard to discuss kindness without sounding maudlin, so I'll leave it here reminding everybody that hugs and bicycle helmets are cool.

1 comment:

Trung said...

i'm sure we can fit it in there that kindness is a trait found mostly in communists /end sarcasm :P