Acts of Kindness in Times of Divisiveness
Regardless of our political leanings, I think we can agree that our country is in the midst of a challenging, divisive time. The messages are harsh and crude and many of our fellow citizens all along the social and economic spectrum are fearful and insecure. We are offended by what has been said and scared about what could happen. How do each of us move from feeling victimized to feeling empowered? Is there really anything that each of us can do individually to impact our collective well-being and make ourselves feel better? Maybe.
This last week I was traveling through the airport in Los Angeles when I came across a slightly confused and anxious family in front of the security checkpoint. They most definitely were from a foreign country, clothed a bit differently, speaking in a language unfamiliar to me, and judging from their faces, apprehensive about what to do next. I wasn’t sure whether to respond, but decided to approach them with a smile and simply ask if I could help. After checking their tickets, I reassured them that they were in the right place and pointed them in the right direction.
Not a big deal, right? Wrong. About thirty minutes later, I ran into them again at their gate on the other side of security. When the husband and father saw me, he waved enthusiastically and broke into a broad grin. It was the highlight of my day, a small act of kindness that had a profound impact on me, transforming me at least for a few minutes from disheartened to fulfilled.
So maybe we are thinking too big. Maybe we can’t have much of an impact on Washington and the new administration. But maybe we can have an enormous impact on those around us by simply going the extra mile to be kind, to be kind to those family and friends with whom we break bread on Thanksgiving, and to be equally kind to those we don’t know and to those who are different. It sure made me feel great again.