I'm going to form a club for people who want to make a career of kindness. I lost sight of that goal, but two recent discussions brought it back.
Friday night, I watched Holy Smoke, directed by Jane Campion. I was suspicious of it from the beginning-- the synopsis made it sound like a romantic comedy (it's neither), and it has disappointing reviews. The movie is about the forced cult-deprogramming of an Australian girl who went to India. The perceived hero of the movie switches about 6 times, leaving the viewer wondering what the director is smoking. I feared for the worst, until almost the end, when I realized, "Holy smoke, they did it!": in one scene, when the characters are raw-est, the movie precipitates out of this confusion something at the core of the intersection of erotic desire, spiritual desire, manipulation, and the human condition. I think the reviewers largely miss it.
At the height of the manipulation, one main character writes "BE KIND" on the forehead of the other. At the end of the movie, those words become the codename for the synthesis that might be found hidden behind spiritual infatuation and cynical disillusionment.
The friend I watched "Holy Smoke" with was pre-med student until a few days ago. She wanted to be a doctor (a psychiatrist) because she wants to help people. She put hundreds of hours into studying for the MCAT, struggled through classes populated with money-minded cut-throats, and she's finally ready to apply to medical school. She went to a seminar on writing personal statements for med school applications, during which some of the worst of her classmates claimed to be doing it all for the same utopic reasons she had. When she got to writing in her personal statement why she wanted to be a doctor, she realized that she had nothing to say. I told her that I didn't think there was a profession out there to do what we want.
All of which is to say that its so easy to get caught up in the tactics of beneficence, when every tactic (or religion or profession) is its own end. The kindness club would be a meeting place for the people behind the tactics, for support in remembering our deepest intention, and to cooperate to fulfill each others' best laid plans.