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A Simple Act of Kindness Challenge: A Moment With Bill Reflection
A Way of Life
He was the meanest man I have ever met, and I met him early on in my life. Five years old, the newest member of the 18th and Monroe Neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington, 1953, my new world and I was excited. Within days of moving into our post-war brick two-story, I discovered a wonderland inhabited by boys and girls of my approximate age. It was the home I would live in for twenty years. It was the neighborhood I would come of age in, and it was where I met Mr. Streitz.
Even his name sounded mean, and he was the personification of the sound, a grumpy old bastard who simply did not like children and made his feelings known every chance he got….and we gave him many chances.
For sixteen years I never heard a pleasant word leak from his vile lips. For sixteen years I saw sneers, muted cuss words and looks of disgust and hatred emanating from across the street whenever I would go outside to play.
I will never know why he disliked me or my family so much, nor will I ever know why, two weeks after my father died, that Mr. Streitz walked across the street, shook my hand and told me how sorry he was that my dad had died.
How do you explain it? How do you make sense of a man who literally went out of his way to intentionally be mean for sixteen years and then suddenly showed an act of kindness that could confound the brightest of psychologists?
I do not have a Phd after my name. Hell, I don’t have any letters after my name that prove my intelligence and accomplishments, but I do believe I know what happened that day in January, 1969.
I believe for one five minute period, Mr. Streitz exhibited the goodness that is in every human being, and that is a lesson I will never forget.
I Cry Real Tears
Which Raises a Question, Does It Not?
And the question is this: if goodness is in every human being, then why do so many humans fail to show that goodness?
Well, how much time to do you have for an answer? They were dropped on their heads as children. They were abused. They were mistreated. Life has dealt them some lemons. Life is unfair. Only the strongest and meanest survive. Take from others before they take from you. Beat them down so they can’t beat you. Don’t show weakness, and feelings of kindness are definitely weakness. What’s in it for me?
I guaran-damn-tee I could ask fifty unkind people why they act in an unkind manner and they would all have a reason and excuse for their behavior…..or…..
They would deny being unkind and say that my perception is all screwed up, and they would list all of the kind things they have done in their lifetime, never once questioning why a stranger would decide, just from observing them, that they were unkind.
I’ll let you, the reader, be the judge. Do you see unkindness as you go about your daily lives? Do you know any unkind people?
That’s what I thought.
Allow me to lay a truth on you, one that is difficult to deny: being unkind is a choice!
And the reverse is also true: being kind is a choice.
Anyone feel like arguing those two truths?
Before some intellectual points out to me, in the comment section, that there are those born who have a psychological disorder that pre-determines them to act in an unkind fashion, I will say fine, I can accept that qualification, but we are talking about a very, very small percentage of the people on this planet.
By and large, one’s actions towards other people are a matter of choice. I get up in the morning, have my breakfast, chat with Bev, say goodbye as she heads off to work, and from that moment on, any interaction I have with others and my positive or negative response to that interaction, is my choice. I can choose to be rude. I can choose to be friendly. I can choose to be helpful, blistering, spiteful, encouraging or compassionate.
So we are left with these truths: goodness is in 99.9% of all people, and 99.9% of all people can choose whether they act kindly or act unkindly.
Are you with me so far?
Will you commit to the challenge today?
Now What You Ask?
In a perfect word, my article would be read by millions, and those millions would instantly begin acting in a kinder way towards their fellow man.
Scratch that because it isn’t going to happen.
Okay then, let’s shoot for an imperfect world. In an imperfect world my article will be read by a couple hundred people, and those couple hundred will take up my challenge and spread a little kindness during their busy day.
And what is the challenge?
I want each of you reading this article to take one minute from your day and write a note of kindness to another person. If you are a writer on HubPages then I want you to pick another writer, go to their HubPages site, select fan mail, and send them a note of encouragement. If you do not write for HubPages, I want you to take a minute and send an email to someone with a similar note of encouragement.
One minute! There are 1440 minutes in a day, and I’m guessing each of you reading this can spare one of those minutes to spread kindness in the world. That will still leave you with 1439 minutes with which you can yell at the dog, watch Honey Boo Boo, sip your mocha at Starbucks or fold the laundry. All I’m asking for is one minute.
And who knows? Maybe those people who receive that act of kindness from you will then, in turn, do a similar act of kindness, so that one day in August, in the year 2013, hundreds of random acts of kindness will have been done, and for one moment the world was a better place.
Can you commit to one minute?
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So Join Me Now
This article is finished. It is now time to act. Leave a comment if you feel like it, then go write your kindness note to someone you know.
I appreciate you taking the time to do this. If you want, after writing your act of kindness, then join us on Humanity One World. The website is available to the right of this section. There you will find other like-minded folks who believe that we can change this world one person at a time.
We would love to have you with us, but only if you can commit to being kind.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”