If the instinctual and repressed kindness of mankind were suddenly let loose upon the earth, sooner than we think would we be members of one another, sitting around one family hearthstone, and singing the song of the new humanity.
--George D. Herron
Have you noticed that in many ways the world in which we live is a kinder world? Since Sept. 11, a wave of kindness has swept across the United States, including our own community. Even now as we find ourselves a nation under siege and waging war on other people, our local communities are experiencing continued acts of kindness.
This is not an uncommon reaction. My grandparents lived in a small community on the Texas and Oklahoma state borders during the Depression and Dust Bowl years when hundreds of people were migrating through the area on their way to California and the possibility of work. People known as "hobos" to my grandmother would stop by and ask for a meal, and no matter how little they had she always had enough to let someone have a plate of food and water on the back step of the house. It wasn't much, but it was something important. In tough times people do kind things.
We may be facing tough times. The unemployment rate is moving up toward the highest it has been in a long time. The stock markets are questionable. Gasoline, food and medical costs are rising a bit at a time. There will most likely be people who may not become "hobos" but who will need an extra helping hand. It is going to take a continued kindness movement to keep up with what lies ahead.
I know that kindness makes a difference, and I know that the world can be a different place and a better place if we let kindness rule our actions. Sometimes I think we hold back on doing something kind because we are waiting to see if someone else will do it first. Perhaps we hold back out of fear. After all, what if people think we are sticking our noses into someone else's business? Sometimes I think we hold back because we consider what will happen if we share the little we may have at the time. What would happen if I gave more this week? Would I still have enough for my family next week? We cannot live in fear and isolation. We cannot live with a mentality of scarcity. We must live our of the law of abundance. There is plenty to go around.
I believe that kindness is not a commodity that is ruled by the laws of supply and demand. There will never be too much kindness and at the same time it will never be so scarce as to need to save it for other times or hoard it for your own well being. In fact, I have found that the more I expend kindness towards others, the more that comes back my way.
Locally and nationally the agencies that are there to help others when help is needed are hurting because so much has been given to help the victims of the New York and Washington DC terrorist attacks. But can we really ever give too much? Even if we gave to those great causes we still have enough to give more. And each dime and dollar counts. Each minute and hour of volunteer time make a difference.
I know we can do it. John Lennon said, "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." I am a dreamer. I dream of a day when kindness will allow love to overtake evil; when giving will become a habit in everyone's lives; and when helping one another is just another way of being together as a community. And I doubt I am the only dreamer in Juneau. Together we can take care of everyone's needs today and tomorrow.
In my quote book today I found this quote. I think it says it best. "If everyone in the world helps one other person, then the whole world is helped."
Kim Poole is a minister at Jubilee Community United Church