Edith here, in the busy second half of a busy month. And I’ve been thinking about kindness. This is a card someone was handing out at Quaker Meeting recently.
We’ve all been witnessing way too many unkind, malicious, and violent acts, whether on the news or in person, of late. Horrifying events. Disgusting acts. Cowardice and rudeness.
Can kindness counter what seems like a tidal wave of really bad behavior? Can it be contagious? Think of how you feel when somebody you don’t even know does you a favor. Smiles, prepays your coffee, or writes and email out of the blue to say how much they loved your book. Kind of makes you want to return the gesture, doesn’t it?
Saturday I woke up earlier than usual, put on my tiara, grabbed a scone I had baked the day before (I left the bubbly for later, since it was only five thirty in the morning), and headed for the television. I didn’t care that Hugh looked at me like I was a lunatic. I didn’t care about all the zillion dollars a royal wedding costs.
I wanted to feast on love and kindness and the beauty of a fellow Californian breaking a bunch of barriers. I was oddly especially touched by Prince Charles accompanying Meghan partway up the aisle, and by his warm – and kind – courtesy to her mother Doria Ragland after the ceremony.
Later in the day I happened across a Facebook post by Alexia Gordon, a talented mystery author whom we have had as a guest right here on the Wickeds. Here’s what she wrote, after listing some of the horrors in the news during the last week alone:
“Then this morning I saw a man look at the woman he was about to marry as if she was more important to him than air, light, and water. I heard the first African-American leader of the Episcopal Church buck 1000 years of British tradition and remind a bunch of stuffed shirts that slavery happened, that genuine Christianity is about love and justice, that love will save the world if we have the courage to act in love.
“I heard a Black cellist perform classical music and a Black choir sing Black music–slave music–in a White church. And I remembered that THIS is normal. All that garbage I exposed my brain to yesterday is not normal. That stuff is sin, it’s evil, and it should be treated as such. It shouldn’t get all the airtime. Real normal–love and justice and inclusivity and hope–should get equal press coverage, if not more. A constant diet of hate makes you believe hate is the only option.
Thank you, Alexia. Let’s all normalize kindness, justice, and love, shall we? Let’s have a constant diet of kindness. The back of the Kindness Matters card gives a bunch of examples of what we can do.
Who’s with me? Will you share with a stranger that you love her glasses? Tell a tired mom with a screaming child that you know it’s hard? Let someone into traffic ahead of you? Offer to blurb a debut author’s novel or read a beginner’s short story?
Readers, share your favorite kind thing to do. And Alexia, thank you for putting into words what so many of us have been feeling.
I have made it a lifetime habit to tell people how nice something looks on them . So comment to make them smile. I do this often to strangers I see in stores or other places.
Sounds like you a e way ahead, Susan.
Edith and Alexia, I felt exactly as you did on Saturday morning. I haven’t felt that wonderful about the world in way too long. And this post reminds me of something I had been making a point of doing a while ago but had let slide–find something about everyone to compliment. Wow, I love those earrings. Those shoes are amazing. You did an awesome job. And yes, please and thank you. And holding the door. Little things that might bring a smile or brighten someone’s day. Thank you for reminding me.
Happy to help, Annette!
It is a special treat to see a happy part of history in the making.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
You are welcome!
Yes, yes, and yes!!!
Adding my yes!
It’s a little thing, but in the small Maine town where I live, people hold the post office door open for each other. They smile and say thank you and good morning. No, it’s not such a small town that we all know one another. Most people are just genuinely courteous and considerate and it does make a difference.
People do that in my town, too, Kathy.
It’s the same in the little town of 5000 in southern NH where I live, everyone is so nice to one another.
I’ve been saying “thank you” far more often than I used to–any kind act should be rewarded. And I also find myself saying “I love your XYZ” to strangers (but only if I mean it).
A thank you can go a long way!
What a great blog and what a positive way to start a Monday! I think we need to use kindness everyday and remember we are all human. It can be a simple gesture of holding a door, putting away a grocery cart and just saying “Good morning” to your co-workers. I’m always surprised that people think rudeness gets results. Kindness goes a lot further. Have a wonderful Monday! 😊
Kindness goes a lot further – exactly!
Yes, yes, yes! So well said by you and by Alexia. Such a good reminder this Monday morning. May I pass it along by send people here?
Please! The more the better, Triss.
Great sentiments – and accurate. Maybe my favorite “act of kindness” is a simple one I learned at college: hold the door. One of the hallmark of a Bonnie, we’ll stand and wait for the person 50 yards behind us, holding the door. Whatever the weather.
Yesterday, I stopped a man leaving the car wash from forgetting an overstuffed planner.
Simple things. All it takes is simple things.
So true, Liz. What’s a Bonnie?
That is the nickname for my alma mater. Full story: http://www.newyorkupstate.com/western-ny/2016/03/what_is_a_bonnie_the_meaning_behind_st_bonaventures_nickname.html
I loved Alexia’s words when I saw them on Facebook and am so glad you shared them here. I guess I was raised to do all of those things without being told to. I was lucky to have parents who modeled kindness. It’s sad we live in a world where people have to pass out cards to remind us of how to act.
Very sad, Sherry. But hey, if it helps…!
Very well said! Yes kindness is contagious and I pray we all help to spread it around.
My favorite way to spread kindness is to share what I love to do most – baking. I love to share it especially with the elderly or those under the weather or who just for whatever reason just can’t do it any more. I’ve always done this, but now as I myself am getting older understand more of what it might mean to the recipients of my kitchen experiments. I’ve always enjoyed it and their smiles have warmed my heart for years. Now though I understand more about how just a little gesture of someone showing up to talk might brighten the day because gloomy comes from more than dark skies. It could mean so much. For someone to furnish a home cooked meal when you have been eating out of cans because it’s too much work to cook for just one feeds more than just the stomach but the soul as well. It’s about sharing fresh out of the garden goodies to someone and bringing back a flood of memories of happy times of harvesting their own and remembering how good fresh is compared to canned.
Kindness isn’t expensive or time consuming. It’s giving freely of yourself asking nothing in return. Well, maybe a bit in return. I can only hope that my return will be that if some day I can’t do what I’m doing now that someone would think of me and say “Hey maybe Kay would like some of this too.” and share their kitchen experiments with me.
I’m sure they will, Kay. You can’t put all that goodness into the universe without it coming back around to you. I also love to share what I have baked or cooked.
I’ll carry memories of that wedding with me for a long time. So filled with love and joy. But on the other side of kindness–since I’ve been navigating the world on a walker, I am surprised and grateful at how kind and considerate most people are. They hold doors, they stand back and wait for me to make my clumsy way, they smile, they go out of their way to welcome me. In spite of all the negativity, there’s a lot of good in this old world.
I’m so pleased you’ve been on the receiving end of kindness, Judy. Sometimes people surprise us in the best of ways.
Enjoyed the blog post. Was having a very bad day (Judith Viorst) where I want to slam doors, etc. but after reading your post with kindness cards I’m smiling. The baby kittens will still be there when I get home this afternoon and my kids-I’m a TAG and Teacher/Librarian, expect me to smile and greet them everyday. Thank for uplifting start of my work day
Happy to help out, Rhonda! Kids need a lot of smiles, and so do adults.
What a wonderful, uplifting blog!! Thank you for starting out my day on such a high note. Little acts of kindness are so easy to do and can make such a difference in people’s lives. I practice lovingkindness everyday. It makes MY day a better day along with whatever good it may do someone else. I’m not a particularly funny person, but I love to make people laugh. And if someone laughs AT me, that’s OK, too. It may be the only time all day that that person laughs.
You are welcome, Ginny!
I find that kindness is normal. People hold doors, let the person with one item get in front of them in line, give compliments and generally behave well everyday. It’s rudeness we notice and remember because it’s not the norm.
Maybe in addition to being kind, our lives would be enhanced if we noticed how often others are kind.
Good point, Barb.
I loved watching the wedding. Mark and I watched it together and he felt the same way I did…that it was just uplifting after everything that had been happening, the perfect way to boost our spirits. I try to be kind to people at my job, smiling and saying hi, and especially to my husband when I know he has a rough day. I hope it makes our little corner of the world a better place.
I’m sure it does, Kristin!
Brava! Being kind creates ripples of kindness . . . one never knows how far they’ll go. If the gesture is not received well, that can a sign of greater need, a person not able to receive kindness openly but who may still have benefitted. A college friend said he knew he couldn’t fix the whole world but he could help make his small part better, and we all can. <3
I’m very much in that corner too, Mary!
Kindness does ripple. But sometimes I feel like the wave of everything else going on is overwhelming the ripple. At least for me.
But the desire to have a positive effect is one reason why I post so many puns and jokes on Facebook. I’m trying to lighten people’s days.
And you do, Mark!
I love that kindness card. My favorite act of kindness is letting someone in line in front of you, especially in heavy traffic.
I was (and am still) blessed to be raised by a mother that taught me to never judge anyone by their clothes, their looks, the color of their skin, their religion or if they were perfectly healthy or not. This from a woman who was put in a concentration camp by her own paternal grandmother (with her mother and sister) during WWII for being gypsy. She taught me that a simple kind gesture takes no time, but can mean the world to someone and yourself. I have lived my life this way and it does truly make me happy inside and keep a smile on my face always. (Betty Tyler on fb)
You were well raised, Kay!
Reblogged this on Carla Loves To Read and commented:
I thought this was something we all need to see and think seriously about. Thanks Edith Maxwell for sharing Alexia Gordon’s wonderful words.
This is a wonderful post that I have reblogged on Carla Loves To Read. My favorite way to spread kindness is to be kind. Smile, say good morning, hold open doors etc. These are so easy to do and should be automatic to everyone. If we all start with small steps, we will move on to giant steps as time and life progresses.
Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the flowers,
Kind deeds are the fruits,
Take care of your garden
And keep out the weeds
Fill it with sunshine, Kind Words and Kind Deeds.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A really nice post. Thank you for this. I agree! Doria Ragland is such a strong woman. I think it was incredibly brave of her to sit by herself as the only representative of Meghan’s family that day. Though Meghan’s as an emblem of modernity in terms of race, the fact that she is an American, an actress and a divorcee, is very groundbreaking, I can’t help but feel that having her mother play such an important role in the ceremony also speaks to so many single-parent families. I know that her father was unable to attend because of health problems and not due to the fact that he is an absentee father, but it was really nice to see Meghan have her mother act as the substitute father of the bride when Doria accompanied her to the church. In years to come, Doria will signify that a mother can be just as important in a marriage ceremony as a father. Thank-you such a great post!
You are welcome. Thank you for reading!
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