Small acts of kindness for a richer world

One afternoon years ago, reporters and fans gathered at a Chicago railroad station to await the arrival of the Nobel Prize winner.

The huge, six-foot-four-inch man stepped out to meet the cheering crowd. He thanked them and then looking over their heads, asked if he might be excused for a moment.

He walked through the crowd with quick steps until he reached an elderly woman who was having trouble trying to carry two large suitcases. He helped her with the bags as he escorted the lady to a bus nearby and helped her aboard. Then turning to the crowd that had by then tagged along behind him said gaily, “Sorry to have kept you waiting.”

A member of the reception committee was quick to remark, “That is the first time I ever saw a sermon walking.”  This kindly man was Dr Albert Schweitzer, the famous missionary-doctor who had spent his life helping the poorest of the poor in Africa.
Such small act of kindness is what the world stands in need of today.  Little kindly gestures speak in loud voices. They say that we care; they show our respect to those around and bring out our goodwill in wanting to share our joy in whatever little ways.

The possibilities to small acts of kindness are endless. They include such ordinary acts as exchanging smiles, leaving behind a generous tip for someone who has done a good job, verbally appreciating a colleague’s work, sending a thank you card for someone who has provided an efficient service, opening the door for a person with his arms full, surprising a family member by doing his chores, calling someone who has not been feeling well and the likes.

Whether it is in our sympathy or in our empathy, acts of kindness leave both the doer and the person, to whom they are done, feeling good about life. Both are richer for it, because such acts bind all men together in a common spirit of bonhomie.
C Neil Strait, author of numerous articles in Christian periodicals and several books, would say, “Kindness is more than a deed; it is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch; it is anything that lifts another person.” 

This is exactly what Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist also advocated. After giving a lecture on mental health, Menninger took questions from the audience.  “What would you advice a person to do,” asked one man, “if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?” 

Most people expected him to reply, “Consult a psychiatrist.”  To their surprise he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the railway tracks, find someone in need and do something kind that will up-lift that anguished person!”

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