. With his eye on this article
Book Review - 'On Kindness,' by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor - Review - NYTimes.com
The punch line of the book is that we are, each of us, battling back against our innate kindness, with which we are fairly bursting, at every turn. Why? Because “real kindness is an exchange with essentially unpredictable consequences. It is a risk precisely because it mingles our needs and desires with the needs and desires of others, in a way that so-called self-interest never can. . . . By involving us with strangers . . . as well as with intimates, it is potentially far more promiscuous than sexuality.” By walling ourselves off from our inner kindness, we end up skulking around, hoarding scraps from the lost magical kindness of childhood, terrified that our hatred is stronger than our love. ...
... “people first came (and continue to come) to psychoanalysis not simply because they were more unhappy, especially sexually unhappy, than they could bear, but because they were not able to be as kind as they wanted to be.” There is a happy ending: the magical kindness of childhood can evolve into a “robust” genuine kindness if child and parent allow their relationship to endure hatred — the kind every child feels when he realizes his parent will not always be able to meet his needs, and the kind that parents may feel in return. Phillips and Taylor suggest it’s not an easy journey. Indeed, the ones who pay the largest price for our contemporary cloak-and-dagger relationship with kindness are children, whom adults fail by neglecting to help them “keep . . . faith with” kindness, and thereby sentence to a life “robbed of one of the greatest sources of human happiness.”
I am very much torn. I think that some behaviors, situations, work products call for an unkind word. I certainly am happy to provide one from time to time. I usually feel justified. But I am willing to believe that this is at a great cost to myself and my happiness.