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Marietta McCarty

Marietta McCarty

Kindness Moves Mountains

Recognizing the Incredible Power of Kindness

It’s unfortunate that the word “kindness” is plastered on bumper stickers and repeated numbingly on greeting cards. The centrality of giving and receiving kindness in any life well lived often gets overlooked, the concept and the reality diluted and taken for granted.

Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi makes her case for kindness quite clearly for the world to hear in her Nobel Lecture in Oslo, Norway, on June 16: “Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that they are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, most precious of all, is the lesson I have learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world … Kindness can change the lives of people.”

Recently, I took glad time to take stock once again of countless ways that kindness can ease hard times and provide the energy and confidence to forge ahead. A nursing assistant recognizes late night caregiver fatigue and “raids her locker” for food and drink that sustained body and soul. “It’s how I was raised, and I know you would do the same for me. Please don’t thank me again. I wanted to do it.” Powerful. The auto mechanic fixes the car and, sensing chaotic times, waves away the credit card. “Call me if you need me.” Powerful. A neighbor cares for animals and plants for extended periods when you’re away and only asks: “Tell me what else I can do.” Powerful. An hospitable friend opens her home to accommodate your larger-than-expected gathering and explains: “A house should be used and lived in. I like to have people enjoy it and feel at home even when they are out of town.” Powerful. People meeting for the first time while grieving the same loss can’t do enough for each other. “I brought you some flowers from my garden.” “Come to dinner next week.” Let's trade herbs and ferns from our yards for autumn planting." Powerful. When cream took the shape of a heart in her niece's morning cup of coffee, a photo of the mug lifted the spirits of her ailing aunt who lives across the country. Her niece commented: “My cup of joe holds your heart.” Powerful.

In all of these cases, the giver of kindness is bolstered as well as the grateful recipient. Shared kindness stitches more tightly the tapestry of our interwoven lives. It’s the sturdy bridge forward. How unthinkable, indeed impossible to live without the reassurance of the comings and goings of kindness, wafting its energy through our days. How joyful it is every time kindness touches the core. While it may seem that I am stating the obvious, I don’t think so. Kindness is underrated and often swept under the rug of busyness and self-absorption. I say bring it on! And let's take time today to recognize the essential place of kindness in every life.