I believe in being kind. I believe it’s a way of life. As a child my parents tried to instill this concept by means of love and fear. I have tried to continue with the attitude of genuinely caring for others though out my life, and I have made many friends and found family in people I never knew.
My parents, Ronald and Blanche, gave me examples to follow. My father would always drive his tractor in the winter through our small town to clean off the driveways of people who, due to old age, were unable to clean it for themselves. My father would also give excess deer meat to poorer families who wouldn’t be able to buy it otherwise. Mother would give surplus items such as fifty flats of strawberries. As a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society, she gave over 100 pans of cinnamon rolls to the hospital in two months.
I was told as a youth to be nice and not fight. At about 7 years old and standing at the top of the stairs, I looked down at Dave and Mike fighting. I did not like to see them fight, and so I threw a small jogging weight to break them up. The throw could not have been better; it was a bull’s-eye to the top of the head of my older brother Dave. In the hospital I met a police officer, and was told that I was going to jail. After several minutes of being handcuffed in one of the rooms, I was released and told that the next time I would be taken away. I never cause physical harm to my brother again, but I hadn’t learned what it meant to really care in more than just actions.
At nineteen I moved to Phoenix and saw a lack of compassion in myself. I was constantly meeting people and trying to convince them of their errors. What I did not see was my own follies. I fought verbally with everyone that I met. There came an awful feeling after such encounters. I felt that neither had learned anything from the other and that they would be even less likely to listen the next time. I decided to change by smiling at everyone I met; to bring a lit bit of small town kindness to a big city. I believe people respond to a smile without guile. I no longer cared about who believed me, but rather if they knew that I loved them.
In my life I have had the opportunity to follow my parents’ examples by giving myself, and I believe that I have been able to care for and love those around me by the acts of kindness that I could give.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.