Ever since the notion of Original Sin, there has been a tug of war over the essential goodness of humankind.
But whether or not you believe that we're innately given to be good, you might wonder how likely we are to do good — to practice, as our guest Adam Phillips puts it, acts of true kindness.
In an America with feuding, greedy housewives in prime time, and a business culture driven by reckless self-dealing, kindness hardly looks like a priority — much less an essential ingredient of human happiness, Phillips says, as it was once believed to be. He argues that we've grown afraid of kindness, wary of it — that it's become dangerous to practice.
This hour, On Point: kindness, how we lost it, and the case for bringing it back.
Joining us from London is Adam Phillips, co-author, with historian Barbara Taylor, of "On Kindness." He is a psychoanalyst in London and the author of twelve books, including "On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored," "Going Sane," and "Side Effects."
And with us in our studio is Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic.
This program aired on July 1, 2009.