We have a manmade pond outside our front door. It was here when we bought the property and was referred to as a koi pond, but we never saw a single fish. Koi pond was just a label I thought and, since I didn’t see any fish, I did not believe there were any fish. Excuse my ignorance in the ways of fish. They are skittish creatures with a high flight drive. They saw us coming a mile away and would dart under platformed slabs at the bottom of the pond, where they huddled together, still and small. No fish. Eventually I figured it out. Now, I feed the fish and they come when I call, breaking the water surface in an eager salute to the Cheerios and fish food I fling at them. They aren’t afraid of me, but will nervously back away if another person is near. I alone have earned the right to call myself a friend of fish.
I tell this story now because I want to know something. I feel a duty to those fish. I show up for those fish. I take care of the pond and worry about their well-being. And my question is, is that a kindness? And if it is a kindness, how does it fit it the weight and weave of the Universe? Is is a lesser kindness because, you know, it’s “just” fish, or not even a kindness but merely duty to keep up a possession — the pond really, with the fish as bonus ornaments?