This week I got an opportunity to record a menu item with the Alameda county library’s project called Listen Inn. It’s an innovative program to engage the general population in pandemic times on the pulse of universal truths like the Moon cycle. The people behind it (@andrea and team) are creative, compassionate, and kind souls!

Listen Inn

Radical kindness is not so radical after all!

The start of fall marks a lot of traditions, most signaling new beginnings full of compassion and hope. Be them the Jewish Rosh Hashanah, Jain Paryushan (Festival of Forgiveness), Hindu Ganesh Chaturthi, or Modern Radical (Kindness challenges). So I chose to highlight kindness in this project.

I’ve been reading a lot this week about scientific work on compassion and kindness. The ones I would like to highlight are the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and the book — Born to be Kind by Dacher Keltner. The most impressive point is that in Darwin’s book The Descent of Man, he argued that compassion is our strongest instinct, in fact, stronger than self-interest, he wrote “the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.”

Compassion — The Poem

To celebrate the new moon and the start of fall, I recorded a short poem from Robert William Service titled Compassion.

Compassion by Rober William Service

A beggar in the street I saw,
Who held a hand like withered claw,
As cold as clay;
But as I had no silver groat
To give, I buttoned up my coat
And turned away.

And then I watched a working wife
Who bore the bitter load of life
With lagging limb;
A penny from her purse she took,
And with sweet pity in her look
Gave it to him.

Anon I spied a shabby dame
Who fed six sparrows as they came
In famished flight;
She was so poor and frail and old,
Yet crumbs of her last crust she doled
With pure delight.

Then sudden in my heart was born
For my sleek self a savage scorn, —
Urge to atone;
So when a starving cur I saw
I bandaged up its bleeding paw
And bought a bone.

*For God knows it is good to give;
We may not have so long to live,
So if we can,
Let’s do each day a kindly deed,
And stretch a hand to those in need,
Bird, beast or man.*

Robert William Service