A review of George Saunders "Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness"


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars -

"Congratulations, by the way.

When young, we're anxious - understandably - to find out if we've got what it takes. Can we succeed? Can we build a viable life for ourselves? But you - in particular you, of this generation - may have noticed a certain cyclical quality to ambition. You do well in high-school, in hopes of getting into a good college, so you can do well in the good college, in the hopes of getting a good job, so you can do well in the good job so you can....

And this is actually O.K. If we're going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously - as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers. We have to do that, to be our best selves." ~ George Saunders - Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness

"What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded...sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly." Short and sweet, Saunders delves into the subject of kindness in a profoundly simplistic way. This idea that we are so focused on our own narratives that we are blinded or even stunted to act in a way that suites others... in a way that asks for action, even conviction, not to mention effort on our part. He opens his speech by talking about the elderly and what they have learned, simply put, they have become kinder by living and learning. He states Saunders words doggedly push us to look inwardly and take stock of our own failures of kindness understanding that just because we did not physically or intentionally add to another person's misery doesn't mean we didn't add to it by simple inaction.

I could seriously dissect this all day, so I will wrap it up by saying George Saunders presents us with a quiet narrative that is both profound and poignant, but even more so, it is important.


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