By Tom Cushing
E-mail Tom Cushing
About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply... (More)
About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply. My long, strange career trip has included law and management jobs in two Fortune 50 companies, before founding the legal search and staffing firm Cushing Group, Recruiters. I've lectured on negotiation and settlement strategy, and teach graduate courses at Golden Gate University (Adjunct of the Year for a doctoral seminar on business, law and society). Illinois, Texas and California (Inactive) admitted me to law practice; I hold JD and MBA degrees from the University of Illinois, and a BGS from the University of Michigan, with Distinction. There -- Go Blue! Personally, my daughters are a lawyer in NY, and a pre-med student in NM - their lives-and-times often animate these columns. I'm active in animal advocacy matters, having led a citizen team that took Alameda's city animal shelter to a non-profit operation - we saved $600K annually and the lives of some 700 companion animals/year vs. the City's best alternative. I'm delighted with that success. My family has re-homed 144 foster animals over many years; we host four boisterous border collies of our own. Mostly for humane movement efforts, I was nominated for GQ magazine's 2009 Better Men, Better World Award. You may notice that many of my rants relate to critter issues. In addition to the Raucous Caucus blog, I frequently contribute to The BARK magazine, and am a proud Moderator emeritus on the popular news and humor website www.Fark.com
. I prefer scotch over imported beer (Hide)
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This regular 'raucous caucus' column is nominally about politics, but the conversations it sometimes provokes relate to the values and priorities that animate political positions. With that in mind, I'd like to invite readers to take a look at a clever and insightful convocation speech that's getting a lot of viral play: writer George Saunders to graduates of Syracuse University, where he teaches part-time (noble calling, that). It's only 1700 words, and it's here: http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/?src=mv
I'm interested in your thoughts does Saunders touch anyone else's soul, here? Should we strive to be 'kinder' as a central tenet of how we approach the world? For my part, I know that beyond parenting and a deepening love I had feared would evade me, the things in life that give me the most real satisfaction are kindnesses simple, voluntary touchings of another being's being. That 'being' often shares my species -- but as often, it does not.
Those who know me are aware that I've invested significant energies in canine rescue and other animal advocacy. In the kindness game, 'canis familiarias' has it all over homo sapiens. And truth be known, in my 'headhunter' persona, I've gotten (even) more of a psychic kick out of adopting-out stray dogs than placing wayward attorneys in new jobs. What about you? Outside of any immediate intimacies, what core tenets direct your life, or give it meaning; what floats your boat (besides your boat)?
Saunders believes that selfishness, rooted in each of our individual conceits of specialness and immortality, gets in the way of living kindly. That we allow those things define how we set our priorities and see ourselves in the world. Is he right? Is there a fundamental tension between "err[ing in the direction of kindness" and career imperatives?
I was surprised by his statement that folks get kinder as they age that's not necessarily my observation. Some folks seem to live their lives in fear of losing their stuff, or preoccupation that somebody else will try to take it away. Do you suppose it's easier or more difficult to be kind, as you've enjoyed material success or hard times?
I'll take that part of his speech as aspirational, and be content if, in case I someday enter that tunnel of light in any sentient state, that I can be "mostly love, now." But that's me what are your thoughts about Saunders' progression are you kinder now than at other points in your life? What impels that kindness? What do you hope-for? What do you want people to remember to write in your epitaph?
'Kindly' take the floor it's yours to respond.