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kindness

What's really important for me is the matter of choice. My most important choice is the choice of love or kindness vs. the choice of anger or violence. The only failures that matter for me are my failures on that choice. (And I think kindness is a better word than love because the word "love" is so misused. Clinging abuse gets called "love", and self-righteous manipulation gets called "love".) I haven't heard the word "kindness" be misused and it has possibilities for profound understatement. Dorothy Day spoke of the benevolent glance; that's a kindness I hope I can have for everyone I see. And I hope I learn to follow it up as Karen Olson has done.

Walter Lippmann got to the crux of the matter in a speech 65 years ago. People don't become happy by satisfying their desires, he said. They become happy by living within a belief system that restrains and gives coherence to their desires:

"Above all the other necessities of human nature, above the satisfaction of any other need, above hunger, love, pleasure, fame — even life itself — what a man most needs is the conviction that he is contained within the discipline of an ordered existence." (recalled by David Brooks in "The Culture of Nations")

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Henri Nouwen Society 0/ 0/07  
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Frederick Buechner   
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