Jimbob's Journal
What Else
by Jim Harris

"What else is kindness for?". I was vacuuming when the phrase came to me. I tend to be open to messages from my subconscious, and occasionally it obliges me by dropping little one-liners on my doorstep, usually at the most unexpected times. It sounded in my head, loud and clear. "Huh?", I thought out loud, "Who said that, and what does it mean?". Then I had one of those "Aha!" moments. I realized that it was an answer to a question that I had been asking myself for many years. I must digress a bit to explain.

I am an activist for animals. I don't dislike my fellow humans, I've just always felt a special affinity for animals. It took me a long time to come to terms with that and to put my feelings into constructive action. Quite often I have been out protesting this or that heinous cruelty when a passerby would shout, "Why aren't you helping people?". I have always wondered what a proper response to that question would be. That's where my subconscious offering comes into play.

It is an answer in the form of a question. In the rhetorical sense, it suggests that any activity which aims to alleviate suffering or promote well-being is an appropriate use of kindness. In the interrogative sense, it asks for all of the needs and causes that can be served by kindness. There are so many moral and ethical issues requiring attention in today's complex, crowded world that it can be overwhelming to think about them all, let alone to try to address each and every one.

The solution, I believe, lies in specialization. There is a time and a constituency for every purpose under Heaven. People are sufficiently numerous and diverse that, if each of us finds our own passion and follows it, - rather than criticizing others for what they are not doing - the world will be a much kinder place. So much of the cruelty and destruction is firmly entrenched and out of our personal control that the best we can do as individuals is to latch on to a small piece of it and make it better. Nature, in her wisdom, has planted enough seeds in enough hearts to take care of everything. We need only express our inner seed to serve the greater good. I like to keep things simple. I only know what I know in my own head. I don't deal in external, Utilitarian concepts like conflicting goods, or the good versus the best. In my opinion, every single act of kindness is a plus, no justification required.

So that's where this one little phrase led me. I wound up writing a gospel-type song about it, and I finally acquired a suitable reply for those naysayers who heckle me at demonstrations. Of course, the core of the argument is a bit lengthy, and time is precious, so I usually just reply in international sign language (hey, I'm no saint), and save the discourse for more appropriate forums.

You can find the words to "What else is kindness for?" and my other songs on my website, Jimbob's Journal

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