A Washington Post reporter went on a mission to find and create more kindness in his world. He had observed that the news headlines and personal encounters were too frequently mean and mean-spirited. He said, “ I’m thinking of teenage and grown-up bullies, the use of slurs and other hateful language. I’m thinking of the driver who rushed into a parking spot I was backing into — and then flipped me the bird. Thanks, guy.”
He goes on, “But life’s not all about sourpusses and sour grapes. Not long ago, I was waiting in a long line at my favorite bakery, which makes some amazing scones. The delicious pile in the glass case dwindled quickly as those in the long line ahead of me snapped them up, until there was just one perfect beauty remaining — and one woman ahead of me. To my everlasting joy, she chose a croissant, so when I got to the counter I pointed to the last scone and declared, “I’ll take that.” No sooner had I spoken than the fellow behind me cried out: “Hey, that’s my scone! I’ve been waiting in line for 20 minutes!” Which he had been — behind me.
“I surprised both of us when I didn’t respond with, “Sorry, it’s mine!” Instead, I countered: “Would you like half?” After a moment of shocked silence, he accepted my offer and one-upped my spontaneous act of generosity. “Why don’t I buy another pastry and we can share both?” We then sat down on a nearby bench to break bread. While it turned out we had almost nothing in common — from our jobs, ages, political views or marital status — we’d shared a moment of connection and a simple kindness. I felt happy and, frankly, wanted more of that feeling.
Have you ever noticed how much of Jesus’ life was spent in doing kind things–in performing simple acts of kindness? Wherever he went, he tried to lift the pain and sorrow of people he met.
William James, the distinguished American philosopher and psychologist wrote a letter to his young nephew. “There are three important things to do in life,” he wrote. “First, be kind.
Second, be kind, third, be kind."
Kindness–how much the world needs it. How spontaneously it acts. How easily it is done. How infallibly it is remembered.
I like what Emily Dickinson said about kindness:
If I can keep one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one heart its aching
Or cool one pain
Or place one fallen robin
Back in its nest again
I shall not live in vain.