cover image The Art of Being Kind

The Art of Being Kind

Stefan Einhorn, , trans. from the Swedish by Neil Smith. . Pegasus/Isis, $22.95 (212pp) ISBN 978-1-933648-70-5

In a world filled with road rage and selfishness, is it possible to be kind? Einhorn (A Concealed God ), chair of the department of oncology-pathology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, believes that practicing kindness is an art whose skills we can develop in order to succeed and feel good about ourselves. In a vague and simplistic way, Einhorn defines true kindness as “a desire to do good and to put this desire into practice,” but Einhorn never defines what “good” is. According to Einhorn, certain counterforces—lack of reflection, lack of empathy, not wanting to get involved —work against our attempts to be kind. But if we can learn that being kind benefits not only others but also ourselves—because what we do for others comes back to us—then we can overcome those forces and succeed in our quest to be kind. Einhorn's conviction—based on his own experience—that the good we do always comes back to us ignores the contrasting belief that no good deed goes unpunished. The expectation of good returned may not be the soundest foundation for kindness. (Nov.)