In these heated, divisive times, all of us sure could use more kindness. This coming Sunday, Feb. 17, offers us a reminder to embrace kindness.
Feb. 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day 2019. It's a day when humans around the world pay homage to the simple art of being kind to their fellow humans.
Unexpected kindness is one of my favorite forms of that art.
In Pittsburgh, land of the kindest, most polite people on Earth, strangers love to hold the door open for you at the supermarket or post office. They wave you ahead of them in traffic. They tell you your taillight is out and you'd better get it fixed so "the cops don't write you up!"
Greek storyteller Aesop said that "no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
That's certainly true. Several people and organizations have offered wonderful ideas for acts of kindness, large and small.
If it's snowing and you see an elderly person shoveling his or her driveway, introduce yourself and shovel it for him or her.
Give $100, or whatever you can afford, to a local charity. Or call your local food bank and ask what it needs. Then, go to the store, spend what you can on those needed items and donate those items to the food bank.
You can volunteer. Lots of organizations need assistance and will treasure your help. The Little Sisters of the Poor in Pittsburgh's North Side is one of many amazing groups that will never turn down willing volunteers.
The truth about kindness is that it benefits those who practice it as much as, or more than, those who receive it.
One of my favorite diners is frequented by older individuals who get tired of cooking for themselves and eating alone. Among them are widows, widowers and many proud veterans, some in wheelchairs.
I'd like to pull the waitress aside and pay for a proud veteran's meal without the proud veteran knowing that I'm paying for it. I'd be sure to leave the waitress a nice tip while I'm at it. Try to tell me that this wouldn't be the most joyful 20 bucks I'd ever spend!
There's a saying widely attributed to Mark Twain. It says that "kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
Kindness is contagious, after all. It brings out the best in us. When someone does something kind for you, aren't you inspired to do something kind for someone else?
Likewise, a lack of kindness bring outs the worst in us. Lately, we're experiencing way too much rudeness, anger and incivility, which are as contagious as kindness is.
Kindness is a choice, you see. We can choose to be friendly, civil and genuinely concerned for others' well-being. Or we can choose to belittle, mock and demonize those with whom we disagree.
Let's choose kindness!
Hold the door open for a stranger. Buy the person behind you at the drive-thru a cup of coffee. Give whatever you can afford to the Salvation Army. Take an elderly relative or neighbor to lunch.
The opportunities for acts of kindness, small and large, are endless!
It's a shame that we need a special day to remind us to be kind. But Random Acts of Kindness Day is a start.
Hopefully, it inspires us to be more kind every day.