This Week in Kindness – February 26

I was really glad to see the response to last week’s entry and to see that people are enjoying this and feeling inspired. I’m finding it inspiring and also reassuring. There are lots of good people in the world and good things are happening.

Here are some of the good things that are happening this week. Did I miss some? Use the form below to let me know!

Someone from Vermont messaged me to say:
“While grocery shopping, I was at the meat section trying to decide on what I wanted and a woman said she sure wished she could have some of the pork tenderloin I had just picked up. She walked on and I caught up with her and gave her the tenderloin and the right amount of cash to buy it. She was shocked and then found me again in the store and told me how much she appreciated It with tears in her eyes.”

One of the the things that happened during the 500 Kindnesses project was that I became more aware of my thoughts about specific ways I could help someone. I would see someone sitting in a subway station asking for money and think “Someone should do something.” but after reading many stories like the one above I realized that I could be that someone – and either give some money or pick up a gift card from the grocery store and give it to them on the way back to the subway. But so often I would either talk myself out of it, or forget the impulse – who knows where it went? Just becoming mindful of that impulse and then figuring out what the next action could be made a huge difference.

Someone in British Columbia shared:
Someone posted on the buy and sell because they needed a copy of Wab Kinew’s The Reason You Walk. People were just sending them Amazon links and suggesting she go to the bookstore — a wee bit insulting. I lent her my copy and thought nothing of it. A few days ago I came home to the book in my mailbox and a coffee shop gift card tucked inside. We ended up having a conversation about kindness and karma that made me feel better at the end of a difficult day.”

This brings up another important point – how kindness connects us to one another not just in the act of helping but beyond that. The pandemic has made us more isolated and lonely. Reaching out to another to ask for help or to give it makes us feel connected and more human.

Someone in Wisconsin said:
“I live in a high-rise condo building. During a snowstorm a month ago, our contracted snow removal service let us know that they would be behind schedule removing our snow, due to having so much work to do. I had free time and didn’t mind spending it being helpful, so I went out and cleared the walks at the front and back entrances, so that all the residents with dogs could still take their dogs out without slipping (or packing the snow down into ice), and also so the delivery people still out working had an easier job making their deliveries. Fortunately, our building has snow shovels located in places that every resident can access, so this was easy for me to do. It was bitterly cold and windy, but despite that it was kind of fun to be outdoors for an hour working. And I felt happy looking out the window later, seeing all the people and dogs making use of the cleared walks. There are many people in my building who step up and volunteer when they see a need, and I appreciate them and try to follow their example when I can.”

There it is again – the “Just doing it” thing. We have a lot of ingrained habits and ideas about whose job each task is. But if the need is there and the response isn’t happening fast enough – or there isn’t a designated person for the task it can just get forgotten. Then, as more and more people notice the problem they can become more frustrated and upset. Sometimes we just need to take the good into our own hands.

This reminds me of my last trip to India. On my trips there I’ve met so many “Kindness Vigilantes” but this last one made a big impression.

When you get off at the Yamuna Bank station of the Delhi Metro on the east side of the Yamuna river you might think you’ve arrived in the country. In the station parking lot you can see cows and a short walk away there are fields where crops are growing and people are working.

Just a few hundred metres from the fields, take a path under a bridge…

Then, follow the elevated subway tracks just a little further. Keep your eyes out for a school. But this is no ordinary school. There’s big modern building, or an old gothic revival building. This one is simpler but possibly more life changing:

Back in 2010, Rajesh Kumar Sharma, a local shopkeeper noticed that many neighbourhood children, sons and daughters of rickshaw pullers, labourers and farmers were idle during the day while their parents worked. Seeing a need, he made time and found space to teach them: under the elevated subway.

Since then, Mr. Kumar tells me, the school has grown by leaps and bounds. Six teachers now teach over 300 students. Four of the kids recently went to college, another student is going to be studying Engineering in University.

Fees for mainstream schools can be high and force local parents to literally choose between food and education. But here the kids get a chance at no cost, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Sharma and his staff. And it all started with one person seing a situation that someone should do something about – and deciding that they could be that someone.

What acts of kindness or good news stories do you know about? Share them below!

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