Last week was International Random Acts of Kindness Week, and in keeping with the general theme of today’s post, I’m just finding out about it now.
I’ve always tried to put kindness near the top of the traits I aspire to live by, and in the traits I look for in others.
However, I’ve realized that being kind seems to come more naturally to others than it does to me.
What triggered the realization was a post a neighbor made today on our NextDoor site (if your neighborhood does not yet have this app, I highly recommend it). The discussion was about a couple of stray cats that wander around our neighborhood. I think I’ve seen the cats, and just assumed they belonged to somebody, but apparently they did not. However, a couple of the neighbors would leave food outside for them, and one of them even took the cats for their shots and to be neutered.
Those certainly qualify as acts of kindness in my book, but the problem is that I would have never even thought of doing something like that for those cats. The thought would have never crossed my mind that they would need something to eat; how did those people know how to do that?
Unfortunately, I’ve got a few other examples to share.
Another one comes from our neighborhood.
We have a wonderful refuse collection, and a few months ago a couple of the neighbors decided to write a commendation letter to the township on what great service the men provide, and how they are always so friendly and helpful to the neighbors. The men were later officially acknowledged for their outstanding service to the community at a board of commissioners meeting. Again, another great act of kindness by my neighbors, and once again, something I would have never have thought of doing.
I had heard recently that one of my former students and his wife just had their first child, and the baby was having some challenges after she was born. I sent an email expressing my concern, and told him that the baby and his family would be in my thoughts and prayers. When I was discussing the situation later with a colleague who also knew this student, she told me that she had gone up to the church on campus and lit a candle and requested that a mass be said in the baby’s name. Once more, a beautiful act of kindness, but one that never crossed my mind.
There’s a couple more work related examples. The husband of one of my colleagues became quite ill a few months ago (and just recently passed away). I would stop by her office on occasion to ask how her husband was doing. It was during one of those conversations that she told me that my secretary would frequently send notes to her husband at home to let him know that she was thinking of him. My colleague told me how much those notes meant to him, and I can see why, but why didn’t I ever think of doing something like that?
And the final work story relates to the wonderful man noted in the previous paragraph who just passed away. During the memorial service, I heard a story about how this man would go visit one of our former faculty members in the hospital when he became ill. This faculty member was actually a priest, and from what it sounded like, these visits meant the world to him. A simple, but kind act, that I could have done as well, but the thought never entered my mind to do so.
There were also several acts of kindness to my family while my mom was ill and when she passed away. It was wonderful to be on the receiving end of such kindness, I just hope to be able to return such kindness to others.
I’ve had a friend tell me he’s sent an inspirational book to a friend who was going through difficult times.
So it’s not for lack of example; my parents, my aunt, my sisters, my wife and her family, my children, and my friends are among the kindest people I’ve ever known, and it seems like they always know the right thing to do when an occasion calls for kindness. I’m hoping that their their kindness is contagious.
I’m also hoping that by putting these thoughts down in writing that doing acts of kindness will become more spontaneous and that my acts of kindness will become more thoughtful.
In the meantime, I have marked Random Acts of Kindness Week 2017 down in my calendar, so at least I’ll be ready next time it comes around.