Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

April 16, 2013

LION & THE LAMB: Random acts of kindness

By William W. McDermet III
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE —

A recent front page article in USA TODAY was built around “Be Kind.” The paper noted, “Some people are listening to their hearts—while others are listening to social media while reflecting on the subject, ‘people-helping-people.’”

Especially noted was the age group classed as “Millennials.” These consist of Americans born between 1982 and 2004. Many in this age group “live and breathe social media and are broadly convinced that doing the right thing isn’t just vogue, but mandatory. With nearly a third of the population driving this trend, kindness is becoming the nation’s newest currency.”

This emphasis in our lifestyle can be simply stated—”Love one another!” (Or at least, “Like one another!”) This philosophy is seen at the close of national evening TV news programs. ABC, CBS, NBC present stories centered on kindness. This is one way of presenting our nation at its best with “show-me-what-you’re-doing-for-others.”

Some bumper stickers are humorous, some are humorless, some are crude, some puzzling, some selfish, some are helpful and thoughtful. I was at an intersection where the red light seemed to be breaking a record for not changing. Of course I was in a hurry. (Yes, I know I should have left sooner, can I come up with a good excuse for being late?) Then, in the midst of my fretting and agitation, I spotted it. It was a bumper sticker that read: “Today I will commit a random act of kindness—will you?”

That’s my kind of bumper sticker. That’s my kind of philosophy for living. The opportunities for putting kindness into action are endless.

While making a trip to Scottsbluff, Nebraska we stopped briefly to say “Hi” to a friend we had not seen in more than 30 years. In the conversation Carlyle mentioned, “I remember when we were together at a summer youth conference. I had recently undergone surgery and you carried all my suitcases over that long trail.” I would hardly consider that a major contribution in one’s life, but to Carlyle it was a remembered random act of kindness.

Doing good is becoming less of an option and more of a requirement. Extensive research shows that performing kind acts—the act of giving—makes people feel happier. The New Testament puts it this way, with a challenge: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35b)

For those of us who are privileged to live in Cumberland County comes the challenge to extend kindness to all types: lions, lambs, moose, horses, butterflies, and even skunks. The list goes on with endless opportunities to exhibit kindness to fellow beings of all shapes and sizes. And, a person can start early in life.

Our oldest daughter, Stephanie, was in the second grade when the incident happened. Sheral and I only learned about it because Stephanie’s teacher told us at a parent-teacher conference. One day after school Stephanie and a group of students were walking home. The group began to make snide remarks about Bob, who was overweight. By the time they reached our street, Bob was in tears. As he headed for his home, Stephanie said, “I’m sorry they called you ‘fat’. I’ll be your friend.” Bob’s parents were so grateful and impressed by this kindness that they told the teacher, who relayed the event to us.

So, dear readers, young, old or in-between, “Go and do likewise.”

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This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.