“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
(Albert Schweitzer, 1875 – 1965)
So many down through the years have been kindness role models for me. It’s hard to single out just one person. It’s difficult to be the one and only kindness role model for others because, inevitably, we won’t always measure up to that role because we are human. Sometimes we need to be unkind in order to be kind and sometimes others need to be unkind to us in order to be kind. (Do I really mean that? 😉 )
My earliest and forever kindness role model would be my mother. I am blessed to have had her example. My father was also a man of kindness and gentleness. I don’t recall either of them treating anyone in a overtly nasty or unkind way. They had strong principles and beliefs, and definitely drew the line on others who might think and believe differently yet I never heard them express their disapproval in hurtful and ugly ways. It was mostly done in thoughtful ways.
One memory of kindness that stands out was when I messed up at my piano recital and couldn’t remember the rest of the song. I must have been about nine or ten. When we returned home my father sat down with me and encouraged me to play the song all the way through so I’d know that I could do it. I felt supported by his kindness.
Down through the years there were many who displayed kindness along the way. There was one time when I was walking home from Brownies when it was beginning to get dark outside. A dog ran up to me and blocked my way, growling and barking. I was paralyzed by fear. A teenage boy rode up to me on his bicycle and chased the dog away. I didn’t know who he was, and just rushed on home, relieved he was there to help. A kind act I still remember!
My family ~ my siblings ~ my children ~ my grandchildren …….. so many acts of kindness I couldn’t even begin to list them. Many, many friends and acquaintances down through the years who offered a kind and supportive hand during good times and bad, offering words of inspiration just at the right time to give me hope.
I’m going to risk treading into an area that’s a hot-button issue right now only because I strive to look for the goodness and kindness during times when these issues rise up.
For the last ten years I’ve had neighbors across the way who have offered me kindness and support. They are a Muslim family who have reached out to me and I was privileged to get to know. I was invited to their home when each child was welcomed into the world. We would share customary foods with each other during our traditional holidays. When I had surgery the children would bring over offerings of food to cheer me up. I was truly blessed with knowing them and learning from them. Recently they’ve returned to Indonesia to live near relatives. They have dual-citizenship. They never said an unkind word about what was happening politically here in our country yet the father shared with me their fear of what was developing. I think of them often now and hope they are happy in their new home.
“We could actually soothe our fearful, angry culture if each of us were more mindful of being kind. Kindness is not easy. It takes thought and a commitment to watching how we treat each other.”