I just returned from a last minute trip across the country. Often when I travel I run into extremely rude people. This time I am amazed to recall only one, and that was a steward(ess) (not sure what men who do that job on flights are called), which is odd because usually those men are friendly and the women stewardesses can sometimes be rude.
Anyway, from the east coast to the west I ran into many really nice, kind strangers who were polite and helpful to each other rather than wrapped in their own world. They caused me to think about how good random acts of kindness are for everyone.
Simply holding a door instead of rushing through it only to let it slam on other people, allowing someone else to go first, or giving a helping hand to a mother with little ones or an older person who is unsure of their way seemed to encourage other people to follow suit in their attitudes and behaviors. It was a change from what I usually observe when I travel, though I always do meet some nice people on trips.
On return as I left the plane from my last flight there were three young men walking behind me, somewhat jokingly complaining of how tired they were. One of the group began speaking of the girl who was to meet them in the vilest of terms, and he did not keep it short, so I turned to face him with a look that I hoped would come across as motherly and yet ladylike in hopes he would be ashamed of himself.
When I did that he stopped the language and looked away laughing. One of the other boys stepped up to bat with an apology, and made an excuse for his friend, asking me to forgive him because he was tired--"please ma'am," he said. The kindness he extended to his friend and to me was touching.
Those boys looked rough around the edges but I was encouraged by their responses. They knew what was right and when they were not left to themselves they did their best to respond to what was good, both for them and for the people around them. It was one of those moments among humanity that made you rejoice that we have consciences.
The way to counter unkindness is to rise above it by spreading kindness, and if we take the initiative to do that no matter what kind of response we may get from others, we win, and eventually the kindnesses will multiply. If we, however, become cynical (as is so tempting in this fallen world) we will likely never see the kindnesses around us.