We are living in unusual times, with segments of our population totally polarized from one another, unwilling to listen, demanding to be heard. It’s hard to know how to help our children navigate these times when we don’t always know how ourselves. We try to practice and teach compassion, and above all else, be kind. Be kind, be kind, be kind.
In reflecting on the past year, it strikes us that we all could benefit from more doing more acts of kindness for others. Kindness will help break down barriers, build understanding. Kindness feels good. It is good.
There is an enormous difference between doing favors and giving to others. A favor is a checkmark waiting for repayment. A favor granted is a favor expected to be repaid. A gift, on the other hand, is given with no expectation of reciprocity. A favor ultimately benefits you, and a gift benefits the recipient – that is the essence of the gift. To give to or do for someone with no power to pay you back and no expectation that they should try is the true gift.
What if we all decided, in 2018 and beyond, to be givers and not granters of favors? What if we saw individual need in our neighborhoods and rose to meet those needs simply because the need is there and we are able to do so? We find ourselves talking to our children about wants versus needs and trying to impress the difference upon them. They want all sorts of things but their needs are more than covered; they are out of touch with the reality of many children in our community whose needs are not met. Foster children moved in the night from one home to another, their belongings in trash bags. Children walking to school in the winter on slushy streets, wearing the hand me down sneakers with the hole in the toe. Seniors who rely on Meals on Wheels for a warm meal, perhaps the only one they will have that day. Neighbors who struggle to keep a roof over their heads, and keep their thermostats low to save fuel. Here we are, with more than enough. Do we look the other way and pretend not to see, worrying only about ourselves? Or do we dig in, reach out, offer a hand in friendship and kindness simply because we can? Imagine what our world would look like if we made that second choice.
Here are two great examples to inspire you, from the StoryCorps project. If you are a podcast person, subscribe. You will not regret it. Above all else, be kind. https://www.npr.org/2017/12/22/572275571/when-money-cant-buy-the-best-christmas-gift https://www.npr.org/2017/12/15/570806606/on-christmas-eve-a-stolen-bicycle-and-a-lesson-in-giving
Wishing you the very best that 2018 has to offer, and a world filled with giving.