"We Must Try."

As a huge kindness advocate, I was touched by this quote from the new memoir of film critic Roger Ebert:

O'Rourke's had a photograph of Brendan Behan on the wall, and under it this quotation, which I memorized:

I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don't respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.

That does a pretty good job of summing it up. "Kindness" covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

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13 thoughts on “"We Must Try."”

  1. I am assuming that Behan's definition of 'kindness' was able to accomodate the storing of explosive devices and a willingness to utilise violence to achieve one's own ends? He was convicted of said offences and served a prison sentence for them. I am not saying that this totally illegitimises him as a moral man and yet it is perhaps a little rich for such a character to be pontificating too loudly about 'making roads safer' in the face of a lifestyle that would be willing to indiscriminately destroy innocent lives...

    Just a thought.

  2. You know, I didn't even know who Behan was. Thanks for the head's up. I included the quote as it set up Ebert's reaction. 

  3. I don't know who said it, but I wish I could always keep this quote in mind:

    Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

  4. I do get the gist of what you are saying, but today's quotes are complete gibberish.  James Dickey (as did Behan) also believed it enhanced both his image and his career to appear before college students while completely snockered.  What a wasted evening that was for me -- please forgive the pun.

    Plenty of crime ( more than 50%?) is committed by drunks.  And it has nothing whatsoever to do with their being "unhappy".  Conversely, plenty of unhappy folks never commit crimes any more offensive than bouncing a check.

  5. "Happy" people don't need to get "snockered," for they see no need to escape reality.

    As far as your feelings towards James Dickey and that "wasted evening" are concerned, may I suggest my previous quote:

    "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

  6. As your quotation has not met with a universally kind reception, Richard, how about these two from a single author:

    'The first thing a kindness deserves is acceptance, the second, transmission.'


    'The greatest forces lie in the region of the uncomprehended.  I will go further - the best thing you can do for your fellow, next to rousing his conscience, is—not to give him things to think about, but to wake things up that are in him; or say, to make him think things for himself.'

    I humbly strive to live by both, as, I think, do you, my friend.

    Hopefully, George MacDonald's reputation will prove more resilient...

  7. Thanks for these quotes. No worries about the reception to the post. For my own part, this was the part the grabbed me and led to me picking the post's title:

    "We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what
    our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try."

    I really believe that.  

  8. Yes, Jim, you are right and I should not have spouted off unkindly.  I do apologize to Richard and everyone else.  My battle is with people who do not respect the law and who imbibe too much, but should not have let this get the better of me.

  9. We all are guilty of coming up short in dealing with kindness with others. You are an honorable man for recognizing that in yourself. I hope I can always do the same with myself.

  10. The path towards joy is something of a learning journey for me, but I think you are right.  I have always before thought about attaining or possessing joy - you point me towards a more excellent way.

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