The Potato Chip Champ is an unlikely title for a book about kindness, but Maria Dismondy takes the concept of kindness, and teaches – through adorable illustrations and a simple story about friendship – that kindness DOES count.
It’s kind of unfair to label this a children’s book when so many adults obviously need to read the lesson inside its pages!
George Saunders says :
… some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age. It might be a simple matter of attrition: as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish – how illogical, really. We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality. We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be. We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now). Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving. I think this is true. The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”
Do you agree, friends? Do you think that as we become older, we become less selfish? If that is indeed the case, how can we start living in this manner as a younger person? Someone in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s?
At what point do we “become older” anyway? Is that all a matter of mindset?
When do we gravitate from ‘kindness matters’ as a young child in the sandbox to an “older person” who again realizes the power of kindness? What happens to us in the middle?
It really does seem simple though, doesn’t it? The concept of being kind in our daily goings on. At the grocery, in the pickup line for the children, at the coffee pot in the office … why is it so hard to just be kind?
Mr. Saunders wrapped up his speech with this :
Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been. I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.
Kindness isn’t something we do instead of another thing. We DO kindness as a part of our daily. You brush your teeth, you behave with kindness. You wash your hands, you treat others with kindness. You pop a squat in the loo, you smile at someone and share kindness.
Be Kind. That is all.