This phrase that Anne Herbert jotted on a napkin in Sausalito, CA in 1982 is one that resonated with me at the time and has continued to do so throughout the intervening years. In our present situation (and predicament) I see it as having greater significance and power than ever as an antidote to the hate, misogyny, greed and exploitative power grabbing by elites that appears to be gaining traction daily. Let’s be giving randomly and gratuitously to our fellow humans and to our planet that sustains us without afterthought. Emmanuel Levinas writing after his internment during World War II reminded us of our moral duty to place the needs of our fellow (br)other ahead of our own. What a contrast with the principle of “enlightened” self-interest that seems to be what’s guiding the trajectory of our cultures and civilization.
It is worth noting that Anne Herbert’s phrase was a transformation of the phrase “random violence and senseless acts of cruelty” that typified the military policies pursued in Vietnam and in subsequent conflicts worldwide.
In 1982, Anne Herbert and Margaret Paloma Pavel published a poem with the same title and in 2012 Mayumi Oda, a global anti-nuclear activist and revered artist known as the “Matisse of Japan”, illustrated the poem which has been published as a delightful little book that can be enjoyed by all. I highly recommend it. The book’s front cover is shown above.