Random acts of kindness


When in Walmart last year, near the checkout area was an older man in a wheelchair wearing a Vietnam vet’s hat. I was going over to talk with him, but a young man about 20 beat me there. I stood by and listened as the vet shared his story of war and disability; he could not walk and had other debilitating concerns. His wife would load him into their van once a week and bring him to “town.” I could see how the young man was very touched by his story. I was tearing up myself when they said goodbye and the “kid” turned around to walk past me — with tears in his eyes. Last week in the mall a woman with a disability was seated in the food court clearly distraught. Again, another man approached her to hear her “story.” He listened, consoled and helped her outside to her ride.

I read about certain groups of folks doing “Random Acts of Kindness” where that is exactly what they intentionally often do. “Kind” is defined as “deliberately doing good to/for others, gracious, generous, warm-hearted.” In today’s hectic, polarized, fast-paced society, kindness too often is lacking.

The other day in the Esky library, one of the staff was giving great assistance to a novice computer patron (not me this time); she went well beyond expectation to help him and he said to her, “You are so kind ma’am.” I told him she was always that way. She blushed nicely.

What random act of kindness can you do today? Clean that neighbor’s walk? Visit someone in a nursing home? Resist those retaliatory words? Give a teenager some valuable time?

Many of you are familiar with the fact the Facebook messages can get really personal, ugly, needless and downright cruel. Yes? On social media, we have many opportunities to share kindness to such posts instead of disgust, astonishment or upset. When folks post “needy, almost scary, help me” posts, we can respond with great kindness and respectful truth. The pen is much more powerful and effective than the sword.

The Store on 8th Avenue has this posted sign outside: “In a world where we can be anything, be kind.” Let’s be kind to each other, to those struggling, to animals and enemies. We can show great kindness when we initiate words and actions and when we respond with grace. Recently someone told me that some of my Letters to the Editor were “kinda good and kind, so thanks, Mike.” I said she should thank the editor. She said, “They’re not that good.” I smiled.

Mike Olson

Ford River/Escanaba


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