Sunday, April 21, 2013

Small acts

Like everyone, I was horrified and saddened by the events that occurred at the Boston Marathon last week.  How anyone could be in such a dark place to want to hurt innocent people, complete strangers, is beyond anything I can comprehend.  However, we often see after a tragedy occurs, people seemed to come together to help the victims, pray for everyone involved, or show whatever sympathy they could. People posted pictures supporting Boston on Facebook and quotes from Mr. Rogers about how there are always good people helping others, even in times of pain and sorrow.  But even as the news was still unfolding, even before the second suspect was caught, I wondered, as I always do, how long our solidarity would last.

I think people, for the most part, have short memories.  I don't mean that anyone is going to actually forget what happened in Boston or Hurricane Katrina or September 11, 2001: those catastrophes will live on in our hearts forever.  After each terrible experience, we promise to be kinder, gentler, friendlier, and love each other more.  But I don't think it ever lasts.  We become immersed in the tragedies at first, but then real life slowly creeps in.  Children need to be fed, bills need to be paid, and we begin to live again as we did before "it" happened.

What if we didn't?  What if we continued to live our days with the kindness and love that we swore we would show to the world?  I don't know if that would solve anything or change anything.  I have no idea if that would make more people reconsider buying a gun or making a bomb or driving drunk.  Day to day, though, it might make a immeasurable difference, even to one person.  And as the domino effect goes, the love that person feels would be passed on to someone else.

So, I challenge you all.  Try to do something kind for someone every day.  Start with one day, then two, then a week, and then a month.  Pretty soon, perhaps it will become habit and just a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or cooking dinner.  Kindness doesn't have to cost any money.  Smile at a stranger on the street.  Really listen to your children when they tell you a story.  Put down your smart phones and live in the moment.  Donate things you don't need anymore.  Take a second to look the cashier in the eye at the grocery store.  Open the door for someone.  Help your neighbor with yard work.  Say thank you to someone and really mean it.

I think life is too short to live in fear and forget to appreciate all of the wonder around us.  There is SO much good in the world, and that good could be increased ten-fold if each of us would take a little time every day to sprinkle some kindness around.  Help someone else, and help yourself.

When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.

The 14th Dalai Lama (1935)

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