This I Believe
I believe in the power of kindness toward others and ourselves.
We live in a disconnected world, with impersonal electronic messages coming to us, instant entertainment at our finger tips, marketing ad campaigns where beautiful people seem to have what we want. But why is it that the person at the drive up window is not smiling warmly like the one in the fast food advertisement? Why do people ride another driver’s car bumper going 80 mph, and then cut them off, speed away, all while a little fish emblem is shining on the trunk of their car? Why do we quickly look to blame someone—another person or ourselves, when any problem arises at home, in the workplace, or community?
I believe that anger, cynicism, and hostility are killing us from the inside out and that the remedy is to focus on doing our part to connect with others in a simple, kind way.
I remember being a young child and hearing my father repeatedly and harshly say “accidents don’t happen, they are caused by stupidity.” I also remember seeking the kind embrace of my mother when I accidentally spilled my milk.
I remember mean Dr. Hennard (fictional name) who routinely seemed to relish in humiliating new graduate nurses during my first year of professional hospital nursing. And I remember the way those same nurses cared for Dr. Hennard years later when he was weak, confused, and dying.
I remember a hospital worker who, in a mechanical voice, referred to me as “the ovarian cancer in room 426.” I also remember the volunteer who asked if she could give me a hand message during my first frightening chemotherapy treatment.
Recently, I remember the irritable mother who brought her child to be photographed in my portrait studio. Days later, I remember the tear that sat on the curve of her cheek when she viewed the photographs of her beautiful child.
It has taken a lifetime, but I now understand that hurting people hurt others. When someone is harboring deep hurts from a father’s harsh remarks, or even minor slights from peers, then that person is more likely to contribute to the world’s ills.
On the other hand, if we can transcend those feelings and remember the kind face and gentle touch of a hospital volunteer, the feeling of acceptance and connection that are offtered to us by countless others, then we can help to heal others with the simplest of kind acts. Every encounter with friend or stranger can be made to mean something when it starts with the most universal gesture, a warm smile and humble attitude.
I believe in the healing power of kindness.
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