COLUMN: National Day of Kindness declared
The following column was written by Editor Jim Baxley. It first appeared in Baxley’s regular column, “Consider This,” in the Bristol Herald- Courier of Bristol, Va., on June 27, 1982. It is reprinted with permission.
We Americans have a day or a week or a month for just about everything.
Mother’s Day; Father’s Day; Dairy Month; Dental Health Month; Be-Kind-To-Animals Week; Mother-In-Law Day; Hot Dog Month; Valentine’s Day; plus national, religious and historical holidays, along with countless other days of commemoration remembrance or whatever.
You name it, we got it – almost. Unless I have missed it, we have not got a day which we put special emphasis on being kind to one another. We ought to have one.
Oh, I know we are supposed to be kind to each other all the time, but we’re not.
We get out of sorts. We yell at people and dogs and cats. We rail against circumstances. We yap at our public officials. We heap abuse on our public servants – our school, teaches, our police, our firemen, our public works employees, the folks at the courthouse.
We say hurtful things to those who are most important in our lives. Even if we don’t really mean what we say, the hurt remains. It may go away, but it takes a while.
So I am declaring a National Day of Kindness. It will be celebrated Oct. 17. Write it down.
Everybody, of course, is invited to participate. Maybe our mayors will proclaim it for the Twin Cities. Maybe Congress will adopt one of those resolutions fixing the date. Maybe even the president will issue one of those proclamations extolling the virtues of kindness and calling on all Americans to give it a try.
Even if none of that happens, though, we can mark the occasion by doing and saying kind things to those we know and even those we don’t know but just happen to run into sometime during the day: Store clerks, cashiers, cab drivers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, secretaries, co-workers, passerby (a smile and “hello” works wonders), even newspaper editors. The list is endless, since it includes everybody.
Other than speaking and smiling, you may ask, if you are not into everyday kindness, what else can we do?
Well, anything that might make someone else feel better about themselves or life in general. But here are some specific fr’instances:
Send a card of some sort, preferably one you made yourself.
Call someone on the phone “just because ..”
Tell your wife or your children or relatives, “Hey, you know I love you.”
Tell a friend, “You’re good people. I like you.”
Compliment somebody on their appearance.
Hold the door open for somebody, even if it’s a femlib type who can “do it myself, thank you.”
Let that waiting driver pull into traffic from the parking lot or wherever.
I don’t recommend presents. There are lots of days on which we send people presents. But if it’s somebody special, and you want to send them a rose or a bouquet, then do it – again, “just because …”
Help an old lady across the street, but only if she wants to go. Drop a note to your favorite charity or public agency (police, firemen, etc.) that says, simply, “Thanks.”
Watch your tongue. If you’ve got a gripe with someone, put it off until tomorrow. Don’t quarrel with anyone. Don’t complain. If you’re a boss thank your employees for their good work; if you’re an employee, thank your boss for providing employment for you.
If you’ve had a “falling out” with a relative or a close friend and you “haven’t spoken” lately, speak. Let bygones be bygones. Make it a day of mutual amnesty.
THAT’S NOT all, of course. Far from it. The surface is barely scratched. But you get the idea. Just be nice, be courteous, be civil, be thoughtful, be kind.
So, if our National Day of Kindness is not until next October 17, why am I telling you about this now?
For good reason, that’s why. Since a lot of us, me included, may be out of practice, it gives us plenty of time to get into the swing of things.
What we can do is start by being kind at least once a day, to sorta get the hang of it. Then maybe twice a day, three times a day, four times, and so on until, finally, we can go a whole day without being unkind. On reaching that point, we will then be ready to celebrate the real thing on Oct. 17.
Watch for it. It’s a Sunday. It’ll be in all the papers. Well, this one, anyway.