We’re celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week (RAK) from Feb 12 – Feb 18, and I want my message to be positive. But there’s so much I want to write about the whole issue of racism and religious intolerance in the US that is being fanned by Trump and his ilk. How can a country known for its tolerance and openness to people make such choices? Now more than ever, we’re called to turn the world kind.
Turn The World Kind
It’s easy to get on a soap box and talk about things in another nation, much harder to examine my part of the world and see how we’re doing with issues of tolerance.
I’m shocked when I see posts that bash one religion with no qualms. When a classmate posted what first seemed to be a message of tolerance about Muslims on Whats-app, I read it eagerly. And then I continued to read with shock at the nastiness of it. Did she think that because there were no Muslims in the group she could share it? I’m still wondering whether to take her on or to quit the group – perhaps, I’ll do both.
I remember one of Pope Francis‘ speeches in which he said “(Because) fear makes us cruel.” But what do we fear? The differences? Things we don’t understand?
We may no be so different.
We’re just back from a visit to Goa – the land of our ancestors. We went there via Bijapur (now Vijayapura) and I’ve made some interesting discoveries that I will share with you in post/s to come. In case, you’re wondering how intolerance is related to my trip, let me tell you that before we speak out against any religion, let’s go back to our roots. We might find that our ancestry might stem from the very religion we’re speaking out against. Enough to stop any racist or intolerant person in their tracks, I would think. I know I’m rambling, but I’m allowed to muse for #MondayMusings, am I not?
Let’s do our bit to be kind to others especially the marginalized, those bullied and isolated because they’re different. Those who we keep far from because of our fears. Let’s turn the world kind.
Discussing simple ways to be kind, Carter and her daughters came up with some ideas. They decided that every time they walk into an elevator, they would make eye contact with one person, possibly offer a smile and maybe even a few words.
“It’s about making an effort to connect,” Carter says. “Once we had the sense of what kinds of things we can do, we really broadened our ‘giving’ vocabulary. My daughters and I share this sense that every day and in every situation, there are lots of ways to reach out beyond ourselves and do something— however tiny—that is kind.”
Make One Big Gesture
Along with the small things, Carter’s family also believes in some bigger gestures. Every few months, they make care packages for the homeless. They fill bags with things like water bottles, socks, lip balm – things her daughters think will help the homeless.
Carter said her “moody 13-year-old” also writes notes that are so sweet they make a mother cry. “Just things like, ‘We see you and we care.’ A lot of times they’ll give that, or just a dollar or a friendly hello but the rule is, you don’t just walk by.”
Acknowledge Those Around You
“Our rule is to interact with anyone who’s helping us,” Carter says. “Not long after we agreed on this, while I was going through a grocery store checkout, I got a phone call from a doctor I’d been waiting to hear from. I took the call. Afterwards, I told the checkout person and the bag packer I was sorry. ‘I had to take that call but I know it was rude.’ Both of them were visibly moved. They said, ‘Nobody ever says sorry for that. You’re right; it’s rude. It’s like we’re invisible.’ They were touched by the apology and the acknowledgement. After all, it doesn’t feel good to be ignored, particularly while you’re helping somebody.”
I would urge you to watch Chris Rosati, father, husband, friend and founder of Inspire Media who was diagnosed with ALS in 2010. Chris slowly lost his ability to walk and speak. He is devoting the rest of his life to spreading kindness.
World Smile Day is held on the first Friday of October every year.
Ever since the ’70s, at least as far as I remember, the smiley symbol has been associated with a smile. Just today I was look at some pictures that a colleague was showing me of a slum in our city. The ‘before’ picture showed an open drain and the ‘after’ picture had a manhole. For some reason, the manhole cover in the picture looked like a smiley – the border created a circle and the handles formed a smile. We both laughed at how appropriate it was.
Today, I thought I’d go back a little and find out more about the symbol. I found the wonderful story of Harvey Ball, the creator of the original smiley face. Harvey Ball was decorated World War II veteran, who started his own advertising agency after the war.
In 1963, he was asked by an insurance company to create a visual icon to demonstrate ‘friendliness’ to boost low employee morale.
I love this part of the story as told in Legacy.com
… hired Ball to sketch something to be used on buttons, and Ball came up with a smiley face on a bright yellow background. The original design consisted only of a grinning mouth but Ball, realizing the button could easily be inverted to send the wrong (i.e. “frowny”) message, decided to add eyeballs. The left eye was deliberately created slightly smaller than the right in order to humanize the drawing through its imperfection. The design took him less than 10 minutes to complete. He was paid $45 for his work. Neither Ball nor the insurance company bothered to copyright the creation. In an interview with the Telegram & Gazette, Harvey’s son Charles Ball said his father never regretted the missed revenue opportunity. “He was not a money-driven guy,” said Charles.
When a big supermarket chain took the symbol and started to commercialize it – it seemed to have lost its value.
Again to quote Legacy.com
Smiley has become so commercialized that its original message of spreading good will and good cheer has all but disappeared,” Harvey Ball said in 1999, announcing the formation of the World Smile Corporation. “I needed to do something to change that.” The World Smile Corporation was created to promote “World Smile Day,” held every year on the first Friday in October. The event helps raise money for the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation, a charitable trust that supports various children’s causes. Its slogan is “Do an act of kindness – help one person smile!”
Today on World Smile Day, let’s remember the real message behind the smiley symbol and smile and pass it on.
Possessions. Awards. Photographs. Experiences. Stories. Books. Money…….
We gather them. Hoard them even.
“These are what define me,” I might say.
“Without them there can be no ‘me’ or ‘you'”, you add.
So on we go gathering, until there’s no space left.
We either learn to give them up
Or time wrecks them – until they are useless,
Or we lose them completely.
Sometimes we die leaving these ‘dead legacies’
Burdening other people with the stuff we’ve gathered.
That’s no way to be remembered.
That’s no testament of the value of your life.
What if, instead of gathering, we scatter
What if we did not hold on
But let go, allowing other people to enjoy
Allowing other people to borrow and even keep
Letting them in on our stories
Sharing our experiences Giving away our smiles
Wouldn’t our lives be richer
Won’t we leave this world a better place
For our scattering?
So let’s scatter peace
In a world yearning for it
Let’s spread joy
Among those who need it
Let’s bring laughter
To those who could do with some
Make happy memories for others
Tell your stories to bring hope
Share your experiences to increase knowledge
Let’s leave a legacy of kindness.
It is not what you gather, but what you scatter, that tells what kind of life you have lived. – Anonymous
Have you ever asked yourself: ‘What do angels look like?’? Do you believe in angels at all?
A few years ago, we experienced angels – earth angels – coming to help us. I’ve shared this story before but it bears telling again. When the #FridayReflections prompt this week asked us to describe a random act of kindness experienced, I knew I had to share this again.
On a morning walk with Pablo, my husband had a fall – a dog came barking towards Pablo and he lunged and tripped Jose.
As Jose lay flat in the middle of the road, trying to hold on to a large and frightened boxer, many people stopped to help. Some held the dog, some attempted to lift Jose, others helped him find his phone and call me. It was early in the morning and I rushed to get decent and ran down to take an autorickshaw (tuk-tuk) and went to Jose, my brain pretty frozen, naturally. I found people around him. They helped me decide to call our doctor, and assured me that they would wait with Jose, while I took the dog home.
Most of them were there when I came back, and waited until the doctor came. As it turned out Jose needed a hip replacement surgery because of this. You can read about all the angels who came to our rescue and how we experienced their kindness here.
Although I don’t believe in all the trappings of the day, I do believe in love and in keeping my promises. That’s just what I’m doing today.
Today, I’m confessing something and attempting to make good on a promise I made two years ago. In 2014, I held a contest on my other blog, Write Tribe. The Language of Love contest (details here) had 28 lovely entries and I had promised the winner a prize of a bouquet of e-books. I confess that despite the good response, I didn’t judge the entries and didn’t reward a prize. My apologies to those who took part. However, I’m reopening this and your entries will still be valid. In other words, today, I’m holding the contest here, seeking new entries and adding them to the entries already received (so those who took part before, you don’t have to bother now! :)).
So what’s the contest about?
1. Write a story, a poem, an essay on your blog on the following prompt:
“Listen with ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love” ― Rumi
2. The quote need not be used but your writing should be inspired by it.
3. The word limit is 600 words.
4. Use the following picture in your post and hyperlink it to this post.
5. Add your link to the linky at the bottom of this post. This will be open until 20th February 2016.