Depending on the Kindness of Strangers

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”, a line from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)

Williams’ character, Blanch DuBois, came to regret that lifestyle choice. When we come to rely on the goodwill and integrity of strangers for our lives and basic livelihood, we inevitably become infantilized, dependent, defenseless, and lacking in self-actualization or worth.

All of us at various times will experience circumstances which will expose our vulnerabilities and highlight our basic human need for inter-reliance on family, friends, community, and faith to share our successes and to lift us in a storm. Government has never and can never sustainably fulfill the roles of family, friends, community, and faith in any human life in such a way that it primarily allows the individual to engage in the process of exploring their potential as a human being. This is simply because all organizations tend to become attuned to self-preservation and self-perpetuation as they grow, increasing in impersonal, dogmatic, and bureaucratic structures which often fail to fulfill their original mission and roles in the life of the individual. To the extent that we allow government, or any other organization for that matter, to make our decisions and to blunt the consequences and rewards of any choice, we are not being human, we are just existing.

–Gail Lindholm

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