The odor of goodness tainted (Walden 42)

“There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted.  It is human, it is divine, carrion. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life, as from that dry and parching wind of the African deserts called the simoom, which fills the mouth and nose and ears and eyes with dust till you are suffocated, for fear that I should get some of his good done to me — some of its virus mingled with my blood.  No — in this case I would rather suffer evil the natural way.” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I remember a time many years ago when someone at church had the idea to send the young people out to go Christmas caroling. Specifically, we were sent to the homes of certain low income people who had been helped financially by the church. I don’t remember how we knew this, but I do remember that everyone understood it, including the people who are being serenaded. I  wondered if I was the only one who recognized the weak smiles and awkward looks of shame, because they knew that we knew they were poor, and that we felt sorry for them, and that we were happy to do them good.

(About  “A Year in Walden”)

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One thought on “The odor of goodness tainted (Walden 42)

  1. Pingback: Cryptoquote Spoiler – 06/02/14 | Unclerave's Wordy Weblog

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