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Be nice. Today is World Kindness Day

The other day, my 19-year-old son called me because he was frustrated. He just had punched out from his shift at his job and was trying to back out of his parking space when a woman pulled into the small parking lot, locked eyes with him while he was trying to back out and promptly blocked him in. She got out of her car, shot him a defiant look and went into the restaurant where he works. He went inside and spoke to his boss who asked him to just wait it out until the woman was done eating. He did the Christian thing and waited. However, it was 90 minutes later before he could leave.
Where has the caring and compassion for our fellow human beings gone? What kind of person gets pleasure from inconveniencing and frustrating a total stranger? The woman who did this, saw that he had the restaurant’s T-shirt on and knew he worked there. Where does the utter contempt for others come from?
You get into your car to drive somewhere. Yet you can’t make it from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ without a person cutting you off, tailgating you, pulling out in front of you or running a stop sign. The worse part is you don’t have to drive into Kansas City to experience this kind of disregard for fellow humans. It happens everywhere you drive.
I rarely make it from the Main Street light here in Richmond (on 13 Highway) to the Wal-Mart light without someone running a light or a stop sign and flying out in front of me without looking. It’s worse where 10 Highway exits onto 13. Not one day passes that someone doesn’t fly off the highway exit in front of me without stopping or slowing down – effectively daring me to hit my brakes or hit them.
I’ve been driving for 35 years and have driven in a lot of East Coast traffic, including 18 years of commuting in Boston traffic. Drivers are just as bad there as they are here. It’s unfortunate that the same mentality of “I don’t care if you live or die” has reached America’s heartland. I expect that mentality in Boston; I sure never expected to see it in these small towns.
Teaching my son to drive defensively was not an easy task. It’s not just the erratic driving habits or people who are not paying attention – there is an equal number of rude people driving vehicles who care nothing for anyone other than themselves.
Yet, there is a positive side. There are the sweet, kind, compassionate souls who walk this planet. They are the angels in disguise.
Recently, I headed into Wal-Mart to shop for groceries. I grabbed the first carriage in line and proceeded through the doors. As is my lot in life, I always manage to grab the carriage that has the errant, noisy wheel. “Clang, clang,” it went as I pushed it a few feet, one wheel spinning out of control. Suddenly, an elderly gentleman who was going through the first cash register, bolted over to me, grabbed my carriage and said, “Let me get you one that drives easier and isn’t so noisy.” Astonished by his kindness, I let him swap my carriage for a good one and smiled at him, wishing him a good day.
He sure made mine. It was a random act of kindness that changed my day.
We need more of them. We need a daily dose of kindness to keep ourselves happy, at peace and smiling at the rest of the world.
Coupled with the bad drivers, are the good, considerate drivers. They are the ones who stop just before my street and let me pull out. They are the ones who let you merge into traffic when there is no let up in sight. They are the ones who have been kind just because that’s who they are.
There are so many ways to practice random acts of kindness besides being a courteous driver. If you stop and look around right here in Ray County, you see all the people who give of themselves through charitable organizations and ministering to others. These are the people who set up fundraisers to help people in need, such as the folks who came together to organize a number of fundraisers to assist the family of Colton Newman and the Todd Dickens family, who were burned out of their family home. These people step up to the plate and give endlessly – the angels in our midst.
I could never name all the wonderful people here who do practice random acts of kindness towards others – whether they set up a fundraiser, a luncheon, donations, volunteer, or commit to one small act a day. No matter how large or small their acts of kindness are, they are always big to the person receiving them.
Today is World Kindness Day. The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves, our country, our culture, race, religions and other boundaries. If we focus on what we have in common – our humanity – we reach an experience of empathy toward others, allowing us to relate and respond to those with whom we come in contact.
This is the day we need to start reaching out to others with kindness all the time. We can be creators of a better world, to work in unity with one another, to show respect towards each other. You don’t have to be Mother Theresa to change a life or be someone’s angel, you just have to care.

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