Last month, I wrote about angels and how we humans might be entertaining them unawares. This month, I’m writing about very real people going out of their way to be kind.
Almost every day, someone does something kind for me, and I hope, I reciprocate. In a world so full of meanness and divisiveness, it doesn’t take a whole lot of extra energy to be nice to somebody.
A while ago, I was getting a cup of coffee in the VA cafeteria, and when I went to pay, the cashier said that one of the VA police officers had bought coffee for that day’s first few customers.
A couple of years ago, somebody added me to a Facebook group. At first, I was annoyed because I don’t like being randomly added to groups. I belong to enough of them.
This group, however, was different—it focused on a little girl who was gravely ill with a rare condition. Her parents posted pictures and updates about her progress. So, I stayed in the group, not knowing who these people were—or even who had added me—but there was something compelling about random strangers rallying around a child.
Over the years, the group grew to over 2,000 members, and we got drawn into the life of this little girl as she struggled and succeeded, underwent treatment after treatment, experiencing remission and relapse.
Group members posted prayers, comments and encouragement to the girl and her parents as she made her journey through the ups and downs of serious illness. They sent cards and gifts to her hospital room. They uplifted each other. This online community became a huge support for a young family struggling with years of overwhelming stress.
This was the very best of Facebook in action: strangers coming together as a community, sharing their lives with each other, interacting with, and supporting, each other. When the little girl died last month, 2,000+ people and I mourned for that four-year-old as if we had known her personally.
Closer to home, I have experienced wonderful random acts of kindness at the museum.
I sometimes find painted rocks stuck in between the wrought iron security bars at the front of the building. Someone calls out “God bless you” from the parking lot, or a biker hands me a pin from his jacket—and once, a man even gave me the cap off his head.
Last month, a lady came in, looked around, and said, “Wait here, I have something for you in my car.” When she came back, she gave me a hand-crafted POW/MIA light switch plate.
More recently, after having seen an ad in The Independent that the museum was having a craft and gift sale, two women dropped off handmade items for me to sell to help raise money for our programs.
This was so very unexpected, and very kind.
In a world that is seemingly less and less kind, and more and more polarized, it is easy to get sucked into a feeling of helplessness and longing for the “good old days” (which by the way, probably never really existed). It’s easy to feel that people are inherently mean and the world is an evil place.
But, I think if you look for good, you will find it, and if you behave kindly, you will receive kindness in return. The universe gives back unto you what you put out into it.
Whether it’s a small thing like buying a stranger a cup of coffee, paying it forward, or doing something big, like donating to a non-profit or food bank, we humans have the ability to put more kindness out into the universe—and that can only help, in an increasingly angry world.