Thursday, April 25, 2013

Neither Random Nor Senseless

Liberals seem to delight in putting unfathomable doggerel on the back bumpers of their Priuses.  Last time I explored a Gandhi quote; up this week is another perennial favorite:  "Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty."  Anne Herbert is taking responsibility for the homily, although her story has changed over the years.  Originally, she claimed to have thought of it while reading various stickers on the back of her car.  Now she claims to have scribbled it on a menu during an acid flashback.  Whichever version is true, here's why I wouldn't take the blame- er, credit for that one:

"Random Kindness."  Okay, so you're walking down the street with a spare sandwich in your hand and you come across a pair of homeless people.  One of them is happily eating a sandwich he had procured on his own.  The other looks quite hungry.  Should you really dig out a coin to flip to determine to whom to give your sandwich?  That would be random.  Gotta do what the bumper sticker says.

Another example:  You're on deck on a cruise ship.  Nearby a passenger falls overboard.  As he's desperately treading water you throw him a Pop Tart.  "Throw me a rope!" he screams.  "Sorry," you reply.  "I rolled the dice and they came up a four and a three, which means Pop Tart!  Enjoy your random act of kindness!" 

Is all this randomness starting to sound a little evil?  Maybe it's because you can't help but notice that flipping a coin to determine whether to be kind or not was the signature move of villain Harvey "Two-Face" Dent in Batman as well as the bad guy in No Country For Old Men.

That's really my point: Random is the one thing no act of kindness should ever be.  "To each according to their need, from each according to their ability" is a dreadful way to run a government or an economy but it's a pretty good philosophy for an individual's acts of charity toward their fellow man.  Whether it's a free meal, helping someone carry something heavy or just a smile of encouragement, give it to the person who needs it, not the random person the dice told you to.  And certainly don't hurl breakfast treats at the drowning.

"Senseless Acts of Beauty."  I struggled so long trying to wrap my mind around that one that I even wondered if they really meant "centsless" as in "free of charge."  But finally I decided that the reason liberals so frequently make no sense themselves is because they literally have no idea what is "sense."  And, by extension, they have no concept of the lack of sense.

Here's an example of an act of beauty that does make sense:  When we bought our new house it came with a planter in the front yard.  My wife planted flowers in it and they're beautiful.  She asked me what kind of flowers I like, and she included those.  The neighbors walking their dogs compliment her on them (thus indicating their enjoyment) and I myself enjoy looking at them every morning when I leave for work. Thoughtful, sensible use of a feature of our property to create beauty.

Here's what she could have done instead:  Scatter peanuts around the empty planter and place a Havahart live animal trap in the middle.  Eventually she would catch a squirrel.  My wife could then reach through the bars of the cage and apply lipstick, mascara, and other cosmetics to the poor creature, thus beautifying it, before releasing it back into the wild.  That would be completely senseless, so according to the bumper sticker that's what she should have done.

Notice what the concepts of acting randomly and senselessly have in common:  A lack of conscious, rational thought.  And that's really the hallmark of the modern liberal, isn't it?  "It's better to feel than to think" is their fundamental credo.  And so, upon analysis, Anne Herbert's little gem probably exhorts exactly what she intended:  "Be More Liberal and Do Less Thinking."  It's great advice for getting Democrats elected.  And it sounds pithy and cool to all the people who have already stopped using their brains.

But as for me, I'll take my wife's flowers over a tarted up squirrel any day. And if I ever find myself bobbing helplessly in the ocean, I pray I'll get some actual help instead of being pelted by Pop Tarts.


  1. I laugh out loud whenever I read the bit about the squirrel! That could make an SNL skit about senseless acts. It's certainly true that we say a lot of things without thinking about what we're saying or what it really means.

    The line seems to me a bit of poetry intending to invert some other phrases we've taken for granted "random acts of violence," "senseless tragedy," etc. to get us to think about how much better the world would be if more people would do strangers a good turn for no good reason. It is arguably something New Testament-inspired.

    One of the best reasons I can think of for keeping most charity privatized is that it is not good for all help to be unthinking/automatic because then it does become senseless and too difficult to prevent it from doing more harm than good, like our modern welfare system.

    It is good in many circumstances to "pay it forward" but as a rule, it just attracts people that are not simply undeserving but GREEDY for undeserved reward.

  2. Good live animal trap is must for controlling them. Thanks for the article.

    live trap