From the Bookshelf

From the Bookshelf: Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart

A guest post by Dusty Klass.

There is no force in the world better able to alter anything from its course than love. Ruskin’s comment that you can get someone to remove his coat more surely with a warm, gentle sun than with a cold, blistering wind is particularly apt….sooner or later, we all discover that kindness is the only strength there is.

Kindness is the only strength there is. I just want to repeat that over and over again. I sense there are people who would disagree, vehemently, with that statement. In light of the events of this summer, I am thinking particularly of police officers. I worked with police officers when I was in college (it was the highest paying campus job), and a number of my coworkers have since taken on law enforcement roles. They are good people. They are kind people. But sometimes not while they’re working.

In law enforcement and in life, kindness often translates to weakness. Kind professors are seen as pushovers and receive less respect. Kind “suits” make less money. Kind police officers feel powerless.

And so professors project as stern and unmoved. “Suits” speak of the bottom line at all costs, and if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And police officers – well, they de-humanize others so that they can handle the tasks they are often asked to complete.

Being kind, over and over and over again, until it works, requires so much more strength than all of that.

Dusty Klass is a fourth year rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and a graduate of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education. She drinks a lot of tea.