Blog 1712 – 05.29.2020
The Milk Of Human Kindness
Today’s title is a phrase that Shakespeare put in the mouth of Lady MacBeth when he had her in contempt utter of her husband that his heart held too much of the milk of human kindness, meaning care and compassion for others. That is quite impossible, I think, for as the old song says, “What the world needs now (and always has and always will) is love sweet love…all the rest we’ve got plenty of.”
When I was a boy over sixty years ago the Rogers Movie Theater in my home town of Chattanooga, during the summers sponsored free movies for children and parents who brought as their ticket an empty Lady MacBeth bean bag to the theater. I am sure that promotion greatly contributed to Lady MacBeth bean sales but it was also a caring and compassionate act to many of us inner city children who otherwise would not have had those weekly wonderful experiences during our long summers out of school. Those kind acts were not wasted, none indeed ever are, but good investments in a better brighter future.
Myself a life long fan of time travel movies and TV shows, like Sarah Conner in the Terminator movies, I believe there is no fate but what we make. In other words, I think, by our choices we determine our future, better choices resulting in a brighter one, poor or ill-informed choices in not so bright a one. Our actions and our choices all stem from our thinking. The savvy promoters have long used propaganda to pitch products, services, religions, and politicians.
Swaying peoples minds is big business and attempts to do so go on all the time, everywhere, and in new ways.
Social media touted as a wonderful connection to friends was begun to sway opinions and enrich it’s inventors, and though some algorithms have changed that is not one of them. In the 2016 U.S. campaign to elect a new President there were many documented postings on Facebook and other social media that purported to be friends opinions on who to vote for or against but many were not put there by our friends but foreign enemies proving to anyone paying attention that social media can be used by friend and foe alike. To paraphrase a catch phrase from a certain popular Second Amendment interpretation, “Lies on social media do not kill political campaigns liars do.” Lies told on social media are not fact checked as often and thoroughly as those on other media are. A wide attempt has been made to label by and large our Constitutional guaranteed Free Press in the U.S. as “fake news” because it does it’s job of holding people especially politicians accountable for their words and deeds.
When we like Lady MacBeth accuse others of having too much or too little of the milk of human kindness flowing in their veins, true or not it is still true that unsubstantiated gossip has found quite an avenue of propagation on social media, we need the free press still to check facts, sources, and statements. One newspaper or television network news editorial department may lean this way or that while advertising themselves always “fair and balanced” but even the worse of them still make some effort to be journalists and not just mockingbirds repeating what they have heard without verifying it.
I, for one, hope this relatively new medium, social media, begins to exhibit more and more of the milk of human kindness and less and less of the “my way or the highway” confrontational mentality so pervasive in politics and salesmanship these days. Even competitors need to keep in mind a sense of the common good and the need for not just persuasive but also encouraging words. Glass of milk anyone?
Your friend and fellow traveler,
Don’t Be Cruel