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November, 2017

Sisters' Peppers   Photo by Martha Clark Scala

Kindness. I wish we could just take it for granted. But we can’t. Some days, I’m not even sure I still live in “America the Beautiful.” Have we become home of the bully, rather than the brave? This trend does not appear to be heading in a good direction.

But wait! It would be so easy to slump into a pit of discontent or disillusionment, right? Sometimes crummy things have to happen to bring kindness forth.

In her poem titled “Kindness,” Naomi Shihab Nye wrote: “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”

A few examples:

Here in California last month, news stories provided ample coverage of the devastating fires that destroyed lives and property in a number of communities. Amidst those ghastly details, however, were tales of kindness by first responders and others to help those most deeply affected by the disasters.

Similar kindness emerged spontaneously in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in Northern California in 1989. And after the attacks that rocked and shocked our country on 9/11/01.

Look at the efforts by Lin-Manuel Miranda to raise funds for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in September of this year. Former New York Yankees catcher, Jorge Posada, has also been instrumental in raising money and getting cargo flown in to his birthplace.

On a personal note, the anniversary of my sister Margo’s death is always a bit challenging: the vivid memory of a lethal illness is hard to erase. However, this anniversary also reminds me of incredible acts of kindness during that time. Dear friends let me stay at their house for ten days. They fed me, took me on some lovely walks, distracted me with movies to watch, and supplied many supportive hugs. Another dear friend made herself available to me by phone at all hours. Etc.

I hope each of these examples helps to restore your faith (if it is wavering) in the goodness and kindness of humanity. I know that if I fail to remember stories like this, the gas in my joy tank might be closer to empty.

Stories of kindness that give me the most hope are those where the response is unbiased. Think about it: in times of disaster or trauma, those who offer assistance or rescue don’t ask the distressed person what their religion, sexual preference, political affiliation or race is before they help. They just help.

Wouldn’t it be nice if kindness were prevalent, always? Not just in crummy times? Here’s hoping humanity moves more and more in that joyful direction every day. Kindness begets kindness.

Comments on this blog post are welcome — see the bottom of this page.


Prompts for Joy

Click here for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical effort to raise funds for Puerto Rico. (Thank you, Patrice Catanio.) Click here to hear Kim Rosen speaking Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Kindness.”

Click here for all previous Prompts for Joy.


Pictured Above

Assorted peppers from the garden, grilled by my beloved sisters-in-law.

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