November 28, 2011

Hope through a Kinder World

Is there a part of you that wishes for greatness? I think we all seek our 15 minutes of fame, and the fortune part wouldn’t be bad either. But few reach the heights of fame that produce fortune, and honestly, most of us are quite content to be right where we are.

Still, sometimes there is this nagging urge telling us we should be doing more, that we should create something BIG that would have a positive effect on the world. There are great minds in each generation that are the doers and thinkers, but somehow we feel as though we should go beyond our lifestyle to be someone that will impact the lives of those around us.
The truth is, we can make great impact through the smallest things we do. Little courtesies of holding a door open for a stranger or smiling and being honestly courteous to the harried sales clerk or barista as we go about our day may reach farther than we know.

I have noticed more people being kind to one another when I am out shopping or out about town. People are generally being nice to one another. 

Shopping at the big box store before the recent holiday, I found myself nearly overrun by carts and shoppers in a hurry to get their bounty and get home to begin the long holiday weekend. What I did not see was rudeness.

People offered apologies for being in the way, or hurrying and almost causing a cart crash. People excused themselves if they walked in front of someone looking at the endless choices on the shelves. People smiled, and took time to be polite. I was astounded at how the simple courtesies seemed to have a ripple effect among the shoppers.

The news reported much different behavior among some shoppers in a hurry for the best bargains later that same weekend, but the job of news reporters seems to be to point out the worst in human nature. They do not report on the ordinary events, but the uncommon ones that they deem newsworthy. Seldom do they focus on positive stories that will uplift our spirits and make us smile.

While on a road trip recently, I stopped in at a fast food restaurant to get something quick to eat. When my turn came, I made an effort to greet the young woman behind the counter as a person, using her name, and making a little small talk. By treating her kindly, I let her know I appreciated her as a person and not just as someone there to produce what I asked for.

Looking back at me, her face lit up as she smiled. Her joy was evidenced through her response to being acknowledged as an individual. Our encounter was brief, but I walked away knowing I had made an impact by being honestly courteous and appreciative of the young woman standing before me.

We each have something we can give, and perhaps it all goes back to that golden rule of the playground, “you must treat others how you want to be treated”.

Maybe we can’t all be Nobel prize-winners or leaders in the Great New Way of whatever is life-changing at the moment, but we can make our impact on society, and we can do it by doing the little things.

Doing the right thing never goes out of style, and who knows, we may start a trend that will have a ripple effect far beyond our kindly deeds.  As I’ve said before, you never know how far a kindness may reach. Perhaps it is the small things that together can become the BIG thing that will change this world.

Common courtesy and kindness. Let’s all share more of these through the holidays and beyond.  Perhaps we can change the world by killing rudeness with kindness. One smile and courtesy at a time.

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