Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Random Acts of Kindness

At the risk of sounding a bit like Pollyanna, I've just been thinking about how small the world really is, and how much potential it has for eventually coming together in peace and accord. The illustrations of this might be tiny, random acts of kindness, but they do happen, and taken together it seems that there might be hope for the human race, after all.

While hatred might start from a tiny disagreement that eventually grows into an argument, then to a clan feud, then to a civil war, then to a war between nations, so too does peace grow into an unstoppable force for good. It starts small, from a simple smile to a compliment to a genuine wish for good things to happen for someone other than yourself. From there it could snowball into groups helping other groups, states working with other states, and eventually to countries lobbying together for the good of the planet as a whole.

Today my city announced its intent to comply with the Kyoto accord. Maybe our country didn't embrace it, and maybe too many politicians muttered too many doubts about statistics and scientific analyses, but city by city, state by state, our country is beginning to wake up, to say yes to humans taking responsibility for our own actions and for our future. Simply by one person standing up and being willing to be seen doing some good in the world, others are encouraged to follow.

My latest personal experience of this was when the very nice garda from Ireland took a few minutes to reply to my email question and even wish me well on my novel, and three other very nice writers on the FM board replied to my post asking for Irish email question-answering help. Without their responses, I would have made certain mistakes in one of my manuscripts--mistakes that I would much prefer to avoid. Does this affect the state of the world as we know it? Well, yes, I think so. Those simple acts of human kindness and consideration made my day, and quite possibly my manuscript. If I'm very lucky, that manuscript may one day help someone else, even if it only helps them while away a few hours in an airplane, or cheers them up when they're down and want some good escapist fiction. Small things, folks. But small things that may one day add up to something much bigger than the sum of its parts.

Remember that commercial on TV where one person saves another person's life, then that person goes on to save another's, and so on until the chain reconnects just like a huge circle? That's the kind of unstoppable force I mean. With that kind of force, starting with those tiny, simple, random acts of kindness, we may go on to change the world.

Try it today. Smile at someone you meet out shopping. Compliment someone. Thank your cashier and wish them a good day even though it's not part of your job. Throw out a lucky penny for someone to find. Let someone into the lane in front of you in the middle of rush hour traffic. Reaffirm someone's faith that there are good, kind strangers out there in the world, rather than only hidden enemies.

Think about it.

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