“Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” is a statement that has become extremely recognizable over the past several decades. It was first marked by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982 and evolved as a response to the phrase “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.”
She then wrote a book, Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty in 1993, that brought light to acts of kindness offered by “strangers” who became connected in an unbreakable chain of love.
As a child, I was taught to be kind. I was urged to speak with the thought of others’ feelings in mind. My parents always taught us to look after others as they themselves were lifelong volunteers. Their actions motivated me to give back any time I had the opportunity to. It was a cultural and spiritual value. I now know that kindness matters.
Not too long ago, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to put my heart, feet, and hands where my values were firmly planted. I spent three days having a blast at the XPoNential Music Festival, hosted by WXPN (a Philly based radio station). But I felt full to the point of overflowing; I was tired and wired. After the festival, we started back to the car. I had a huge blister on my toe, forcing me to limp, and all I could think about was how badly I wanted to get home to shower and get some much-needed sleep.
I was with two of the most caring people I know, my cousin Jody Weiner-Rosenblum and Paul Dengler. The three of us hold many of the same core beliefs, especially: if we have the ability to help, we should, that we are always in the right place at the right time, that love is powerful, and that miracles happen around us all the time. It’s important to be mindful of that.
As we were leaving the festival, I saw a man in the grass, crying. He had only a few items with him and seemed to be missing a couple of his teeth. This man had been living on the streets for a while after his wife left him. He didn’t have a job and a lot of his things had been stolen. The three of us gave him some money, the food we had left in our cooler, and I gave him an extra t-shirt I brought. My hope was that we gave him a sense of hope for a healthier future.
We sat and talked with him for a bit, and another car pulled up. Two women stepped out and gave the man their extra food and clothing as well. One even shared that she was thankful for her family’s support, otherwise she feared she would be in the same position. She felt moved to give back/pay it forward.
The man cried as he gave each of us a hug, apologizing, and saying, “God is good.” He told me that the day before, he considered ending his life. Jody—a social worker like myself—and I jumped into therapist mode. He assured us that he wouldn’t act on his suicidal ideation.
From where we stood, we could see the lighted sign on the top of the local inner-city hospital. I told him if he started to feel these thoughts coming back, to head over to the hospital. He assured me he would. Later that day, when I was showering off the sweat and dirt from the festival, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude. I was grateful for the home I returned to, the place in which all my needs are met.
Are we our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers? I believe so. We are called to be of service to each other, knowing that we all matter and can make a difference. Kindness is contagious.
I was on my way home from two workshops in Virginia when I stopped to get some gas for my car. As I was filling up my tank, I saw a young man sitting on the bed of his truck with a cute little dog. He held a sign that was asking for donations for food, as he looked really skinny and tired. After I finished filling up my car, I walked over to him and gave him some money. The puppy seemed extremely happy and well taken care of.
When I asked this young man how he got into this situation, he told me that he traveled up from Florida to be with his family. However, “It didn’t work out.” He was left homeless and jobless and told me that he feeds his dog before he feeds himself. As we chatted, I asked what professional skills he had. He was a carpenter and was very knowledgeable on all things construction. I assured him that he was very marketable and would find something soon. I wished them both well and went on my way, praying for his success and comfort and that our conversation generated a ripple effect.
My goal behind sharing this story isn’t to self-aggrandize but to inspire people to do what they can from wherever they are. Small acts make a significant difference. Perfectly timed, as I was writing this article, this song by Ringo Starr was playing on the radio, called Give More Love.