Friday, February 17, 2017

Once and only once...

Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?
~J.M. Barrie (1860-1937)

Today is “Random Acts of Kindness” Day. Kindness is in short supply these days of shouting down people with whom one doesn’t agree, destroying and looting property in the name of ‘protest’, burning our country’s flag, and a Congress which seems bent on spending the next four years furthering their own agenda rather than taking care of America and the rest of us who live here.

Meanness has always existed, but once upon a time it really was the exception rather than the rule. Now children are regularly bullied in schools, and the children of public figures are fair game for some of the vilest comments ever spoken/written. Celebrities use their positions (created by the public) to pound the bully pulpit against those on the opposite side of the political aisle. Retailers only stock “politically correct” merchandise.

If I don’t agree with you, I’m some sort of -ist or -phobe. If I’m a Christian, I’m attacked as ‘un-Christian’ if I don’t celebrate the current agendas regarding abortion and same-sex marriage. 

In this world, you must be a bit too kind in order to be kind enough.
~Pierre Marivaux (1688-1763)

I don’t often use The Word Place to speak my heart, but right now it’s overflowing.

Once the little saying “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” was taught to children who, believe it or not, sometimes thought about it before they spoke. Now they hear filthy things said and wild accusations made by the media and elected officials, even by their teachers, and think, “They said it, so I can, too.”

I’m just one person with no public standing--the same as some of you reading now. It’s tempting to believe all is lost and give up. I think of the character Nellie Forbush in Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” telling another character, “I just can’t work myself up to getting that low!” And, neither can I.

One of the prayers I read every morning says, “...You have brought us safely to the beginning of this day. Defend us today by your mighty power, so that we may not fall into any sin, and that all our words may so proceed and all our thoughts and actions be so directed as to be always just in your sight.”

Kindness begets kindness.
~Swedish Saying

I can’t direct the thoughts of actions except anyone except myself, but if I don’t do that, I’ve failed to appreciate the life I’ve been given. So when I leave the house, I paste on a smile whether I feel like it or not. People smile back. Maybe it’s the only smile they’ll see all day. Coming out of a store the other day, a total stranger said to me, “That’s a nice smile.” His words warmed my heart. Leaving an eating establishment another day recently, I held the heavy door for a woman using a walker. She thanked me and said, “There are still nice people in the world.” The sad thing is, something like that should be automatic and not require more than a simple “Thank you”. I guess she’s had different experiences, and I’m sorry.

Supposedly this quote was found scrawled on a cellar wall in Germany after World War II and the Holocaust:

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.

Anne Frank’s famous words echo the same sentiment:

I believe that people are really good at heart after all.

I’m not going to turn The Word Place into a bully pulpit for my own beliefs, but sometimes one has to speak out. I know I’ll lose readers. I may even get some nasty comments, and if that makes someone feel better, I’m sorry that’s what it takes for you to be happy. But it’s been on my heart lately that it begin with one person speaking out. Maybe only a few hear. That’s okay--a few is better than none.

A few smiles can turn into many. A few people who think twice before speaking negative words can create a positive atmosphere. A few people can make a difference.

I want to be one of them. All I can do is try. 

 Throughout this toilsome world, alas!
Once and only once I pass;
If a kindness I may show,
If a good deed I may do
To a suffering fellow man,
Let me do it while I can.
No delay, for it is plain,
I shall not pass this way again.

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