Stupid, Senseless, Helpless Kindness

For those of us tied to nature, for those who know our links to our neighbor’s suffering, for those  who have watched our race evolve however slowly  towards a place of fragile peace where we might all be nurtured in body and soul by the world around us, the violence, destructiveness and gratuitous cruelty of our current government seems incomprehensible. Despair is numbing– and giving in to it is tempting. But  hope sometimes emerges from the blackest corners.
Last night I came across a remarkable quote from the 20th century Russian-Jewish writer, Vasily Grossman. Grossman experienced the worst of war and totalitarianism. The manuscripts of his novel Life and Fate from which the quote below is taken were seized and destroyed by the KGB but a hidden copy was smuggled out years after his death:
“I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. …..This dumb blind love is man’s meaning…..Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.”
Powerless as it may seem, we can all, today and everyday, extend a hand with even a small kindness. And we might add that even as some dark impulse in the Trump team tries to drive us towards a Mordor-like empire of silted streams, blistering heat,  flooded cities, parched fields and blackened lungs, some of our Companions in Life will also survive it all and speak. Blades of grass will grow in the pavement cracks, tree roots will cling to denuded mountain sides, a thrush’s song will carry over the valley calling its mate, and fresh rain will fall in the sea. New species, new forms, expressing the variegated infinity of Creation will emerge. Beauty and wonder –as well as kindness– will never be extinguished by even the darkest impulses of which humans are capable.


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