Jul 19

Kindness, Both Random and Organized: Quotes and Resources

How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment. We can start now, start slowly, changing the world. How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make a contribution toward introducing justice straightaway. And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness!

Who’s behind this progressive, hopeful bit of wisdom? Anne Frank.

Acts of kindness, whether random or organized, not only help others but also help ourselves.

I. As a Guiding Principle

Henry James: Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind. 

Dalai Lama XIV: My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

Roger Ebert: ‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs.

II. Helping Others

Richard Dehmel: A little kindness from person to person is better than a vast love for all humankind.

Annie Lennox: Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your modus operandi and change your world.

Leo BuscagliaToo often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Albert Schweitzer: Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Scott Adams: Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.

III. Helping Ourselves

Psychologist Talya Steinberg :

Recent research suggests that kindness may improve resiliency by promoting feelings of and peace and supporting immunity.  Cultivating happiness and peace is a key to resiliency because it bolsters one’s ability to stay grounded during difficult times. It also keeps the body healthy and helps ward off disease. Additionally, by improving interpersonal relationships, kindness can help build support systems so crucial during crises.

Harold Kushner: When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.

IV. Is it just me—or does this video induce some eye moistness?

V. Organizations

It’s not hard to find other organizations promoting a similar mission. Here are a couple more:

This post is dedicated to the kind stranger who went out of his way one day this week to point out a great solution to my little (in the scheme of things) problem.

May 08

“What Maisie Knew” Will Require Some Therapy Someday

What Maisie Knew is a film adaptation of a Henry James novel updated to a contemporary setting. Neither mothers nor fathers, however, are at all idealized.

A Very Brief Summary of What Maisie Knew

From the eyes of a six-year-old girl, Maisie’s parents’ relationship disintegrates. They remarry, they inappropriately place her in the middle of their issues, they leave most of the subsequent caretaking to their new spouses.

The Child

Linda Holmes, NPR: “There’s no mugging and no sobbing; she is heartbreaking because she is transparently processing the fact that while her parents are willing to fight over her, they will not in fact choose her, over either their other interests or their conflict.”

Justin Chang, Variety: “Scribes Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne approximate the intimate child’s perspective James achieved on the page by placing Maisie (Aprile) in every scene, continually reminding the viewer of the invisible trauma being inflicted by two thoughtless individuals on the person most deserving of their care and attention.”

There’s Therapy in Maisie’s Future

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: “She might as well be invisible, but she hears everything. And here’s the only good news: Onata Aprile, the young actress who plays the adorable moppet trapped in this bitter custody tug-of-war, is heartbreakingly good. All you have to do is take one look into her wide, sad eyes to know she’s internalizing all the vicious white noise. You also suspect that she’s going to spend most of her teenage years in marathon therapy sessions.”

The Parents of What Maisie Knew

Justin Chang, Variety: “…(H)er parents, fiery-tempered rock musician Susanna (Julianne Moore) and perpetually distracted art dealer Beale (Steve Coogan), have divorced, leaving their soft-spoken, well-behaved daughter to drift between their respective Manhattan apartments. Each parent wants custody for all the wrong reasons, as it soon becomes infuriatingly clear that, despite their superficial expressions of affection, they’re more interested in using Maisie as a weapon against each other than in serving her best interests.”

The Dad

Sheila O’Malleyrogerebert.com: “Steve Coogan, in his few scenes, is terrifying. It’s a great portrayal of unfettered narcissism. He has one moment, in the back of a cab, saying goodbye to Maisie, that is as good as anything he has ever done. For just a moment, you see him understand, and actually feel, his own terrible nature.”

The Mom

Justin Chang, Variety: “It’s Susanna, trying to convince Maisie and herself that she’s a good mother, who arguably winds up doing the greater damage, and Moore acts with a white-hot fury that sends waves of resentment and self-pity flying in all directions.”

The New Spouses

Rex Reed, New York Observer:

…Susanna’s new husband is a sweet, sensitive bartender named Lincoln (versatile, appealing Alexander Skarsgård) who shows Maisie the kind of sincere compassion she never had from her own dad, and Beale runs away with the nanny, a kind-hearted girl named Margo (Joanna Vanderham) whose maternal instincts seem genuine instead of the phony play-acting Maisie gets from her real mother. At first, these replacements fill tertiary positions, but eventually they do something Maisie has never experienced—they become real friendsOne of the things Maisie learns is that loneliness is not restricted to only one age, gender or legal document. Both Lincoln and Margo are neglected and unloved. Maisie has always been the one left out of the equation, the lockbox where the grownups deposit their fears, tears and anxieties. Surprisingly, it is now up to a child to make the adults feel wanted. Unwillingly, they eventually become playmates, guardians and surrogate parents to the little girl who needs them, and the two most unconditionally devoted people Maisie knows are the two people who have landed in her life by accident.