By: Sandy Churchill
Recently, I happened upon a jauntily-crayoned rainbow sign that simply said, “Kindness.” It was masking-taped in an elementary school hallway in honor of “Kindness Month, ” as part of the year-long Character Counts initiative.
The simplicity and bold yellow-orange-and-green stripes of the sign made me smile. Kindness. The image in the third grade hallway stirred images of recess-door holding, cafeteria courtesy, and friendship conversations on the Buddy Bench.
But what about kindness in the world of adults? What would this look like? Letting each other out in traffic, waiting patiently in the grocery speedy check-out, reaching out to family and friends to really listen and focus on helping lift one another’s burdens?
After the horrific Valentine’s Day school shooting, the adage might seem overly simplistic but doesn’t that make it even more poignant and necessary? In no way can every complicated tragedy be reduced simply to a one-word solution, but wouldn’t it help in some small way if each of us embraced such a value?
Think of it. Kindness in word, deed, thought, and idea. Choosing to be gentle with our words and our treatment of each other… Could we embrace it for our own version of “Kindness Month”?
How about a mid-winter challenge? Could each of us—moms and dads, students and neighbors, grandparents, teachers, clerks, office workers, patients, nurses, police officers, firefighters, and everyone in between—commit to even a day of kindness?
What better way to show we value life than to embrace each day with gentle thoughts and gentle hands? We have the power to lift each other up and make a difference in how we feel about our value in this world. What if one kind word, a thoughtful deed, or a listening ear makes enough difference to transform each other, halt a terrible impulse decision, or save a life?
We will never truly know the “ripple effects” our words and actions have on strangers, but we see on a daily basis the “up” or “down” factor we elicit on our family and friends. So in this season of chilly days as we anticipate the warmth and light of spring, what if we commit to the third-grade passion for kindness this month?
For me, it will mean taking a breath before complaining or criticizing, trying to be patient in traffic or lengthy lines, choosing joyful music over bleak and terrifying newscasts, reaching out to family and friends who might be lonely, sick, or needing encouragement. And always, choosing to see the sweet child in each of us as we do our best to navigate a fragile and often-broken world. Kindness matters.200