I once read a funny story of a European woman who went to observe a small tribe in a sunny African village. At first she felt harassed by their constant demands for food, but with humor she eventually learned the right response. The point of the story was that she realized their demands for food reminded each other of the most important concern in their life, just like we ask about the weather. In rural farming communities the talk about the weather is concerned with food and survival. It’s no less important in urban communities, though we might be concerned about getting to work, which ultimately speaks to our ability to pay for food and shelter.
But it got me to thinking, what if we asked each other, “how have you been kind today?” I thought what a difference we might make if instead of asking our children as soon as they came home from school what they learned, we asked them instead if they’ve been kind, as if that were the most important thing they should learn. I haven’t been brave enough to try it on others, but thinking about the question, and what my answer would me challenges me every day to do something out of the ordinary. Today, for the first time ever, I went and broke and swept away the ice in front of my Seattle apartment building and laid down kitty litter. It’s not my job, and no one expects it of me, but the footing outside is treacherous for everybody, and the winter storms have kept our owner at home. I would not have even thought of it, except for this novel notion of having to answer to my friends and family each day the question, “how have you been kind today?” I find that each novel act of kindness makes each day an adventure.
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