thought, which is specific, not random.rnThat leaves us with kindness, somethingrnintrinsically worth seeking. Thernword means the state or quality of exhibihngrngoodness, benevolence, showingrnconsideration, affection, or love. Surely,rnthere’s no problem with that. Except thatrnI’ve noted a shift in its meaning, awayrnfrom the dictionary definition and towardrnsomething that’s synonymous with “nice.”rnGoodness, however, is not a passing affect;rnit’s bone-deep. We all know someonernwho, even when all of his faults arernacknowledged, comes out way on top.rnSuch a person gives us something (an objective,rna standard) to which we might aspire.rnTrue kindness (not simply “niceness”)rnand goodness make it possible forrnus to reclaim a firm foundation.rnThe idea that a religion or philosophyrnis valuable does not come from a randomrnsource, but from someone or somethingrnseparate and distinct. It comes not fromrnwithin but from without. Somebodyrndoes something to us. Somebody goodrnuses all the powers at his command tornmake a difference in our lives. And wernfeel, see, taste, and recognize the difference.rnWe know that it works because wernhave been changed, and we have thernpower to change others.rnInstead of the mindless axiom torn”Practice Random Acts of Kindness,” wernshould—like those strong and principledrnpeople who have changed our lives —rnpractice calculated acts of goodness.rnWho needs help? Wliat kind of help canrnwe offer? Such a reckoning does not precludernspontaneous acts, if those achonsrnare in accord with our nature. If we arerngenerous, then we will also be so on thernspur of the moment.rnBut we must imderstand what we’rernabout. Demosthenes speaks to us still:rn”In God’s name, I beg of you to think.”rnDoes somebody need immediate assistance?rnShall I give it, even if the risks arerngreat? What about the bag lady at thernlunch counter? Can I pick up the tab secredy?rnWhat about letting the guy exitingrnfrom the store parking lot into myrnlane of traffic? He needs help, but is itrnsafe? Am I likely to cause an accident? Isrnmy proposed act of generositv’ to my kidsrngoing to be good for them or will it letrnthem off the hook for something theyrnneed to learn in order to be responsiblernadults? Wliat message am I sending them?rnIdeas have consequences, RichardrnWeaver tells us. And I foresee a dire onernheaded our way. It’s bad enough to findrna book entitled Random Acts of Kindness,rnbut now there’s a kids’ version, and NationalrnRandom Acts of Kindness Daysrnand Weeks, and teachers’ guides to facifitaternstudents’ thinking about the concept,rnand websites by the handful.rnIt’s not “just a word.” Our childrenrnwill be ill served if their teachers don’trnknow the difference between randomrnand specific, between safe and dangerous,rnbetween good and bad. In the classicalrntradition, the ends of education arernwisdom and virtue. We are to cidtivaternreason, right reason, and not only in ourrnchildren: We owe this to each other, tornbe both specific and good.rnOur watchword should be Christ’s admonitionrnin Matthew 10:16: “Behold, Irnsend you forth as sheep in the midst ofrnwolves: be ye therefore wise as serpentsrnand harmless as doves.” That is anythingrnbut arbitrar}’.rnAnd there is the belief that we Christiansrnespouse: Jesus died for my sins.rnThat was an act of supreme kindness,rnbut it sure wasn’t random.rnDavid B. Schock writes from GrandrnHaven, Michigan.rnFOREIGN POLICYrnA Maturing Europe?rnby Doug BandowrnWhile many Asians have welcomedrnthe election of George W. Bush,rnleading Europeans are nervous. In particular,rnthey fear that President Bush willrnreduce their continent’s free defensernride, especially as the Balkans begins tornexplode vet again. But it is time to expectrnEuropeans to behave like adults in securingrntheir own interests.rnThe Clinton administration was goodrnto Europe. It expanded NATO, brokeredrnthe deal preserving an artificial Bosnia,rnmanaged the war in Kosovo, and deployedrna significant garrison throughoutrnthe Balkans. At the same time, it continuedrnto guarantee the securit}’ of populous,rnprosperous states that face no obviousrnmilitar}’ threats.rnBut that wasn’t enough for the Europeans.rnThe pre-election suggestion byrnCondoleezza Rice that the United Statesrnshould pull its troops from Kosovo set offrnill-concealed panic across the continent.rnDefense Secretary Donald Rumsfeldrnsubsequently sparked another round ofrnhand-wringing by talking about bringingrnAmerica’s forces home from Bosnia.rnLt. Gen. Carlo Cabigiosu of Italy,rncommander of KFOR (the Kosovo garrison)rnargued, “politically, no doubt, forrnthe project of restabilizing the Balkans,rnthe U.S. is very important.” A host of unnamedrnEuropean officials whirred tornAmerican newspapers that Washington’srnpresence was “vital.”rnClinton administration officials naturallyrnagreed. Outgoing Secretary of StaternMadeleine Albright lectured her successorrnabout the importance of preservingrnAmerica’s dominant role. Sen. JosephrnBiden (D-DE) complained that withdrawalrnwould be “an absolute disaster.”rnStill, at the very moment that Europernis pleading helplessness in the Balkans,rnthe same officials are chortling aboutrntheir newly dynamic economies. Jean-rnClaude Trichet, governor of the Bank ofrnFrance, contends: “The tkiropean outlook,rnbarring proof to the contrary, is onernof growth. In the United States, there arernsigns of a fairly considerable slowdown.”rnThe euro i.s climbing in value; socialistrnleaders, like those in France and Gernrany,rnhave become tax-cutters. Despiterncontinuing government resistance, corporaternrestructuring is occurring. Exportsrnare climbing, and Europe is expectedrnto outgrow America in 2001.rnThis raises the obvious question: Wliyrnmust Washington continue subsidizingrnEurope’s defense? The European Unionrnhas a much larger population than thernUnited States; it also has a comparablerneconomy. Today, Britain, France, andrnGermany each spend about as much onrndefense as does Russia.rnNor can Serbia compete. Europe hasrn1.6 million men under anus-enough torngarrison the entire Balkans, if desired.rnThe Europeans’ combat effectiveness isrnfar less than that of the United States, butrnthey could remedy that. Indeed, the Europeansrnare talking of creating a more seriousrndefense capability, which made thernClinton administration nervous.rnThe lack of any genuine securityrnthreat in Europe has left NATO enthusiastsrntalking about America’s “global responsibility”rnand the importance of beingrn”engaged.” At the last NATO ministerialrnmeeting in Brussels, Defense SecretaryrnWilliam Cohen sputtered about “unity”rnand the importance of avoiding an “R.U.rncaucus.” Jessica Fugate of the Councilrnon Foreign Relations sas that NATO isrnimportant “so that we are not alone vhenrncrises arise.”rn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn