Is Kindness Dead?

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It is easy to think that there is not much kindness in our very divided world.

I looked up a simple definition of “kind” in Merriam Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, which is meant for use by new English language learners. Their definition is “… showing a gentle nature and desire to help others….wanting to do good things and to bring happiness to others.”

About two months ago, I was surprised when a gentleman ahead of me in the checkout line of a dollar store, swept my few items into his pile and said “I got this”. Not expecting his kindness, I first reacted with “Oh, those are mine.” Then I realized he meant to pay for my items. I felt really touched and also had the desire to “pay it forward,” so I paid for the few items the woman behind me was buying. She too was surprised and repeatedly thanked me, telling me the items were to decorate her classroom for special needs students. I thought about both interactions for many days. It felt good to receive an unexpected kindness, but even better to give one.

I later asked others about their experiences with kindness. A few people shared how they were told by a waitress that their bill had been paid by a stranger, often one who left before they could be thanked. All remembered the event clearly.

Another person told a story about an act of kindness this past November at the polls in Suffield. An elderly woman fell outside the Middle School on her way in to vote. Students saw her fall and went to her aid along with a police officer and other nearby adults. After assuring her kind helpers that she was okay, the woman insisted she really wanted to vote. They gently escorted her inside.

If we look around and really pay attention, we will begin to notice small acts of gentleness and kindness that we might otherwise overlook. We never know what a simple smile, a nod hello or a small favor means to a stranger. You will be surprised how many small acts of kindness come back to you. Let’s help to revive kindness and resolve to “pay it forward” whenever we can.

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