In a recent blog about the impact on children of a kind Granny, I was musing about how we pass on kindness from one generation to another. The kind words of a Primary School teacher will stay with me forever. A friend's praise for an accomplishment means such a lot. A smile in the street, reciprocated, warms my day.
Kindness costs nothing, but is of tremendous value. I was speaking to a friend who'd worked in a difficult environment for many years. On retirement, she avowed she just couldn't get over how kind people actually were. She'd been used to the dog-eats-dog situation and it had eroded her natural instinct to be kind and take this as the norm. Composite kindness, the words of this person, the deeds of another, make up the sum of my life experiences.
Another friend had paid for a train ticket for a complete stranger she'd found crying her eyes out at Euston station! "Because I had a choice, "she said: "leave her to her misery, or help her out ".
Yes, there is the reverse of the coin too. I have sometimes experienced unkindness, even cruelty, as I'm sure we all have. But I am inclined to put thoughts of the seamier part to one side today. Is this because I'm feeling positive and enthusiastic about going forward with faith and hope? Probably.
But I sincerely believe that we never get what we want by antagonising people, or by throwing our weight around in an attempt to score the point.
I see life as an opportunity to enhance in a very small way another person's day, and I do hope that doesn't sound bombastic! No Saint am I, I hasten to add! (Saint Sally doesn't sound right anyway!!). And it's not "payment by results" either : no expectation of return, but surprise and joy when it does bear fruit.
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