George Saunders

‘When I call up the concept “my first kiss”, neurons light up in my head (a golf course! A 1969 Camaro! The smell of a now-discontinued 1970s perfume!). Then I type that phrase and you read it and neurons light up in your head in a pattern similar, but not identical to, the one in my head, and we are both, somehow, united, around the concept “first kiss”.

That is: our respective neuron-firing patterns are roughly the same in response to the same stimuli. (Put that on an inspirational T-shirt.)

Now, so as not to get too dreamy about this: the guy who charges into a school and kills a bunch of kids – he’s also on a continuum with me. And with, you know, Gandhi. This idea of existing on a continuum doesn’t mean, “We are all good,” or “We are all, brothers and sisters, exactly the same,” or “All is forgiven, no matter what you do,” but, rather, something like: “Wherever you are on the human continuum, I can know you, approximately. I’m going to proceed on that basis: whatever tendencies are large in you, must be here somewhere, perhaps smaller and/or nascent, in or me.”

Could I, approximately, know the people in that crowd that rushed into the Capitol? Of course. Does that tendency – to fail to know propaganda when I see it, and react to it with violence – exist in me too? I know for a fact that it does. Why is this more comforting than terrifying? Well, because it implies that these people are not beyond my understanding, nor your understanding, and that no one is.’ (from the Guardian)

I read this interesting article thinking about the well-known Thich Nhat Hanh poem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s