“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” Bob Kerrey
This sentence really resonates with me for several reasons. First, I love the defining word of “unexpected”. Isn’t that the best kind of kindness? When you are waiting for what feels like an eternity in line, knowing that you are going to be late if you don’t get helped in the next couple minutes, and the person ahead of you says, “Why don’t you go first? I’m in no hurry.” What a surprise and what a lift to your spirit! And of course, we are all watching our pennies so anything that is the “least costly” is bound to get our attention. But the most important part of this sentence is the fact that it makes us realize that kindness can create change.
What a concept! No matter what your politics are, no matter whether you are rich or poor, a farmer or an engineer, male or female, young or old – I think we can all agree that the world could use some changing right now. Positive change, that is. We all underestimate our own power to make a difference. And the way we act, the way we react, the way we treat others – all of that is within our own control.
The consensus on the internet (so it must be true, right?) is that on average a person makes 35,000 decisions every day. 35 THOUSAND! A large portion of those decisions have a human component to them. Do I say hello to the person I pass on the way into the bank? Do I wave and smile at the man in the crosswalk that I have to wait for before turning the corner, or do I give him an angry sneer and make him feel bad that he doesn’t walk well and made me wait? What if I made all the little decisions with “kindness” as the driving factor behind each one? Might I make a decision that impacted another’s life so greatly that the ripple effect created astounding positivity? Possible, but not necessarily probable.
Just because I may not change the world, does not mean I should not try. We all have heard the saying attributed to Ghandi – “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Well, I want to see the world become a kinder, gentler place – a place where there is less judgment, more tolerance, more acceptance of different views. A place where people take the time to become connected – to find common ground. So, if I can be kinder, I can be the change I want to see. I am going to give it a try – how about you?
By Peggy Smith
Leadership Siouxland is an organization dedicated to developing diverse, informed leaders who shape our community for today and tomorrow.