On The Disposition of Kindness

Our conversation drifted, as it is wont to do, toward the disposition of kindness.

“There is a lack, a surfeit, I tell you.” This while tamping down the tobacco in his pipe. There is much ritual in the proper preparation of a smoking pipe, which he enjoyed as much, if not more, than the actual smoking itself. I, on the other hand, did not conspire with his fondness for tobacco, although I did not present any protestation to his habit.

“I think you mean another word,” I replied. “Lack and surfeit are antonyms at best. So either you mean to say there is too much, or not enough. Surely there could not be too much kindness in the world.”

“Precisely, too much, I say.” He struck the match and puffed vigorously on the pipe bringing an orange glow to the bowl in his hands. “Why, if there were less kindness, there would perforce be more self-reliance. Precisely my point.”

“And yet, a kindness can turn the heart,” I countered.

“The heart?” He harrumphed. “What is that to me?”