Poetry Month Challenges Day 13: Kindness and Knowledge

The Kindness in Knowledge and the Knowledge in Kindness by Maria L. Berg 2023

Kindness & Knowledge

This is another fun pair to look at as contradictory. I looked at Kindness on the thirteenth last year. Kindness can be a state or quality, an act, a behavior, and/or a friendly feeling of benevolence. Benevolence is a desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness. And goodwill is a friendly disposition; cheerful acquiescence or consent. That last definition disturbs me a bit. Kindness is just happily giving in? That doesn’t sound right. And yet through gaining knowledge—acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation—about kindness, I have a disturbing new understanding of kindness. Is disturbing me kind? I would say not. So in my own experience this knowledge is the opposite of kindness.

Continuing yesterday’s exploration of instincts and emotions in The Mind at Mischief, Sadler says that the primary instincts and secondary emotions, together with the resultant sentiments, are the building blocks of the convictions of human experience. I found kindness as part of two of those convictions of human experience (I like that phrase):

Altruism—Altruism is also a conviction, at least with many people. It is, no doubt, founded on the basic emotion of elation and the instinct of self-assertion. We have a peculiar pride and satisfaction in knowing that we are big enough and good enough and kind enough to be altruistic. Then the emotions of sympathy and pity come in for their part. We are sympathetic with those we help, and sometimes we go so far as to pity them. In fact, altruism is a sort of glorified pity, exalted sympathy, idealized elation, if you please—a species of social patriotism.

Patriotism—Patriotism is no doubt founded on the primary emotion of security, associated with the herd instinct. We defend our country and our institutions because we need their protection. The element of rivalry comes in, starting out sometimes quite innocently, and ending, when our own security is threatened, with the arousal of pugnacity and its accompanying anger; and that, many times, means war. Also into our patriotism come the emotions of pride and vanity, altho we would not care to push these to the foreground in our own consciousness. Patriotism simply means loyalty to the common herd. It is a species of social courage.

William S. Sadler, M.D. (1929)

So Sadler is saying that kindness is actually for personal safety and protection. Sadler also defines knowledge in relation to social interactions:

If your town has a public library you have an education right there on its shelves, as far as book knowledge is concerned; but remember, real education, real culture, consists in the development of the character as an outgrowth of mingling and associating with your fellow men. If you have lived well and successfully, if you know how to associate with your fellows, if you are living a life that is making this world a better place for your children and grand-children to live in, then you are educated; indeed, you are more—you are, to some extent, cultured. Real education consists in the ability, each day, to learn how one more human being looks at life.

It should take a mature mind only six or eight months really to master all the essential knowledge in the whole four-year high-school course. We don’t send our children to school for the knowledge they get, so much as for the training, the discipline, social contact, play, and other things that help to develop their social and gregarious characters. We send them to school for contact with their teachers. The encyclopedia has more in it than the teacher ever knew, but the encyclopedia can never take the place of personal influence—the inspiration that comes from contact with a devoted teacher. Don’t bemoan the knowledge you have lost by not going to school, because you can easily make up for that by reading and study. There is no excuse for having an inferiority complex regarding education and intellectual attainments. If you are lacking in anything, get busy and acquire it.

William S. Sadler, M.D. (1929)
Kindness by Maria L. Berg 2023

Today’s Images

For today’s images I decided to take a break from my abstract photography and instead play with an “Art Assignment” to photograph the abstract. I found a book called You Are an Artist by Sarah Urist Green at my local library. It turned out to be a collection of the different artists’ Art Assignments from the PBS show “The Art Assignment.”

The assignment I chose for today is from Christoph Niemann and is called “Emotional Furniture (click link to watch video).” The assignment is:

You are the director of a drama, and your actors are pieces of furniture. Scan the objects that populate the rooms you inhabit and consider them anew. What emotions might they convey, either alone or through their juxtaposition with other objects? Then get moving, arrange and rearrange your furniture, and see what theatrics unfold before your eyes.

1. Arrange furniture in three different ways, conveying three distinct emotions:

  • envy
  • melancholy
  • confidence

2. Take three photographs, each documenting one arrangement.

Christoph used a couch and a folding chair to show Envy, Melancholy, and Confidence. I altered the assignment slightly to show Kindness, Knowledge, and the kindness in knowledge, and the knowledge in kindness.

Knowledge by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is “try writing a short poem (or a few, if you’re inspired) that follows the beats of a classic joke. Emphasize the interplay between the form of the poem – such as the line breaks – and the punchline.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is

The Poem

A Comedy of Errors in the Dangerous World of Art


What do you get
when you cross
a love seat and a bookcase?

A bloody head
and a sore shoulder.


Knock, Knock
Who’s there?
Wood Bookcase
Wood Bookcase who?
Would the bookcase
have cracked your head open
if you were nicer to it?
Maybe told it how
pretty it was
(before your head
cracked it back)
now and then?


A poet, an artist, and a photographer
walk into a living room
The poet sees the blue recliner in the corner
and the table by the window and
says, “melancholy.”
The artist sees the foot rest of the recliner
holding up the corner with the missing table leg
and says, “kindness.”
The photographer jumps up on the love seat,
staring through her camera, and says,
“Yes, but if I can get just the right angle, I
can capture it all, the melancholy, the kindness
the knowledge in kindness, and the kindness in knowledge.”
She twists and wiggles and squirms, bracing her legs
against the back of the couch.
The poet and artist are mesmerized
by her serpentine searching.
“I see it,” the photographer exclaims
but misses the camera’s trigger
as the loveseat falls back, tossing
the photographer into a bookshelf
and bashing her head open.

When the photographer gets up
and gently touches the wet crown
of her head, her bright red
bloody fingers terrify her.
The poet and artist are gone.
The recliner is just a chair
and the table leg needs fixing.
When the blood clots,
she’ll right the couch and
get a hammer.


How do you forgive
a bookcase for breaking your head?

You don’t.

It was the stupid, mean couch’s fault.

One thought on “Poetry Month Challenges Day 13: Kindness and Knowledge

  1. Pingback: Poetry Month Challenges Day 15: Mercy and Misery | Experience Writing

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