An Act of Kindness

My husband and I have a new aspiration: to do an act of kindness for someone each and every day.  It shouldn’t be hard to do…but sadly, it’s a bit hard to remember. I go through many of my days without thought and am certainly not thinking of anyone else.

When I do think about giving, whether it is time, money or gestures; I am forced to examine my motives.  Do I give gladly and from the heart or do I give from distance? Is it a thoughtful gift, or do I click a button, write a check, or drop cash in a basket without connection or true caring?  Is that kindness?

I’m a big fan of Kiva and Women for Women, etc. so I believe in giving by clicking.  But it isn’t the same as a kind act, is it?   Maybe it does more for humankind but does it further my own humanity? Not so much. It’s good that I am touched by the needs of others. And I need more from myself: not instead of…but in addition to.

I have given from distance in hopes that I will never be in the same plight.  I have given, thinking, “Thank God, this could never be me”.  I have given with a feeling that I am somehow better, not for the giving, but as the giver.   In the depths of my heart I know that “There but for the grace of God…” but I am the happiest when I can be in denial and believe that where I am and who I am is a result of my own doing.  These are definitely not acts of kindness!

I want to be aware of those around me.  I want to help the person who looks lost and confused on the street of our small town.  I want to step up and to the clerk and translate for the old Latino woman who can’t understand the question.  I want to notice the man in a wheelchair who can’t quite get over the curb and out of the street.  I can give him that extra push.    I understand these difficulties and want to give back what I’ve received from others.   Yes, but this is still “tit for tat”, isn’t it?  It isn’t really kindness.

I need to go further. When I take things to the mission, I want to look the homeless men in the eye and acknowledge that I see their situation and don’t judge.  I want to hold the hand of the old woman and walk her all the way to her house even if it makes me late.  And I want to do it with interest and attention so that she knows I am with her and not thinking about my own destination.  I want to give two bags of groceries to the people down the street who have been out of a job for several months.  Then I want to remember them tomorrow and the next day.

Most of all, I want to know that I am these people.  What affects them affects me.  What they live through lives with me.   I want my heart to hurt with the pain of our side-by-side existence being so different in this world and try to do something about it.

That will be kindness.


One comment

  1. Please leave stories of how you negotiate this promise!!

    Have you ever heard of CASA? It isn’t random kindness, but it is important. I do Kiva and WFW too, but I’m also a CASA and at least for me its been one of the best things in my life. Given what you write about, it might be intriguing for you too.

    Can’t wait to hear about the impact you make with your kindness!


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