(Apparently, this seminal text has disappeared from its previous location. So I found a copy I had stashed. Anne Herbert gave me permission to repost this a long time ago. So here it is: the origin of the phrase “random acts of kindness”…)
Handy tips on how to behave at the death of the world
by Anne Herbert
Sometimes it comes in a dream, and sometimes in one more newspaper headline. And then you know. With your cells and past and future you know. It’s over. We are killing it all and soon it all will be dead. We are here at the death of the world – killers, witnesses, and those who will die. How then shall we live?
PROBABLY GOOD TO TELL TRUTH as much as possible. Truth generally appreciated by terminal patients and we all are.
Good to avoid shoddy activities. You are doing some of last things done by beings on this planet. Generosity and beauty and basicness might be good ways to go. Avoid that which is selfserving in a small way. Keep in mind standing in for ancestors including people who lived ten thousand years ago and also fishes. Might be best to do activities that would make some ancestors feel honored to be part of bringing you here. Silent statement to predecessors: Well, yeah, we blew the big thing by killing ourselves. I tried to honor you as much as I could in that context by doing the following:
TRANSFORM YOUR OWN POWER-OVER BEHAVIOR to whatever extent possible. Life system of world being efficiently killed by human habit of going for power over. Tasteful to try to profoundly correct that to extent that you can even though it’s too late. E.g. Men profoundly understand and change around relations with women. White people profoundly change in relations to people of color. Humans profoundly change in relationship to other beings on planet. This constitutes thank you note and note of apology to the whole history of the planet. I mean it has been rather great, sunsets, oceans, some art, some moments between beings, smells of fresh mornings. As we kill it all by dominance habits too huge to stop, we can thank it for the good times and say sorry by changing our own participation in the dominance stuff in some profound way. Doing this kind of change will involve confusion, embarrassment and awareness of activities and attitudes you have not been conscious of. Doing this kind of change will involve increased aliveness for you personally, a fine thing to bring to a dying planet. Be in radical alignment with particular forms of aliveness being smashed. Particular species, human cultures, styles of living are being obliterated brutally now. In as much as we all going to die fairly soon, the stylish thing to do is to align with one of the lifeforms and help it be itself as long and strong as possible.
Eschew blandness. Eschew causing other’s pain. We are all the target so wear bright colors and dance with those you love. Falling in love has always been a bit too much to apply to one person. Falling in love is appropriate for now, to love all these things which are about to leave. The rocks are watching, and the squirrels and the stars and the tired people in the street. If you love them, let them know, with grace and non-invasive extravagance. Care about the beings you care about in gorgeous and surprising ways. Color outside the lines. Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. This is your last chance.