Things I’m Doing: #26actsofkindness, #26aok, #26acts, 26 Acts of Kindness

I wish I could fly through space like Superman in reverse of the Earth’s rotation and go back in time and change things from last week. But I can’t. I wish I had words or deeds at my disposal that could make the parents, siblings, Grandparents, teachers, neighbors, friends, everyone in Newtown, and the entire world feel comfort. But I don’t. I wish I had 100,000 or 500,000 or 10,000,0000 readers of my blog so that when I wrote something from the heart, it would ripple through the blogosphere, Interweb, and the cosmos like the most viral thing that ever went viral. But I have 12 readers on my best day.

Luckily, someone who does have access to a great many followers, fans, and readers has come up with a wonderful and beautiful idea …26 Random Acts of Kindness for the next 26 days to honor the 20 children and 6 adults killed in Newtown.

In the wake of the Newtown shooting, my Facebook News Feed was solemn for only a few hours before it became a battle ground for blame and name-calling and misguided “solutions.” All I could think of when I heard of the shooting was, “how can I make this world a better place,” and, “who needs a hug, because I sure need one (many) and I’m ready to be giving some?”

Most of my Facebook friends were like me (sad, confused, searching), but a few others jumped right to “angry”. I actually un-Friended two people (one a right-wing extremist and the other a left-wing extremist) on Facebook. I had considered un-Friending both in the many months leading up to the election, but I didn’t because I felt like it’s not a bad idea to see what the extreme viewpoints look like. But the ignorance on display right after the shootings made me too sad and too mad, so I won’t be Facebooking with those two anymore. Keeping negative people around will only destroy your spirit.

Here’s my favorite quote from one of the clergymen who spoke before the President spoke last night.

“Let us be childlike, but not childish.”

I’m like most people and I ask, “what is the answer?” Is it part of the American culture and our American tradition, a nation wrestled free from England through a bloody war,  a nation still nursing visible scars from a war fought between ourselves for individual freedom, or the two World Wars we helped end by military might? Is it partly because our fictional heroes are quick-draw cowboys in black and white hats, G.I. Joes, and boxing champions? Are we disposed to violence? Or is it because we have too many guns and not enough laws to keep them out of the hands of evil and mentally confused people? Are schools, malls, stadiums, airports, and movie theaters not safe enough? Do we not teach enough morality and values in schools, in our homes, and in our churches? These questions don’t have answers. Whatever the “reason” or “answer”, it’s a fact …America is violent and we can get pretty angry.

For today, I vow that I won’t be angry, violent, condescending, or sarcastic. I will be the exact opposite of “angry” or “violent” and I will commit to @AnnCurry‘s “26 Days of Random Acts of Kindness”. You never know who you might be crossing paths with and whether they’re having a really bad day, bad week, bad month, or maybe a bad couple of years, so a simple smile might be a start. Holding a door. Looking across a restaurant and paying for a stranger’s lunch. Sitting uncomfortably on a plane without an armrest because the person next to you is using it. Giving up your seat to someone wherever you might be. The list and the inspiration can go on and on and on and if we’re lucky, maybe 26 Acts of Kindness can create a tidal wave.

I leave you with this nice story from my old high-school friend Matt, who posted this on the evening before the Newtown tragedy, and I felt it was touching and heartwarming because we’ve all been “Lewis” at one time or another in our lives, and Lord knows I’ve pretended not to notice a “Lewis” at least once or twice – and I’m ashamed of that. I’m not saying the Newtown shooter, or the Columbine kids, or the Aurora Batman theater shooter wouldn’t have done what they did if they had been loved, helped, or listened to, but I can tell you it wouldn’t have hurt if someone had been kind to them.

Thanks for reading and thanks for joining me, and many, in#26ACTS. Tomorrow I’ll talk about “shaking the tree” for the goodness of all.

Matt’s Story:

I tell this story with respect. It’s humorous, but I mean no offense. I took my daughter to her school’s “fun night” where all the city’s elementary schools could send their kids. I stayed with her a while until she found a friend, but I got the times in my head wrong and ended up staying the whole time, sitting against the wall and playing Sudoku. There was a kid in the corner wearing sweat pants and a shirt that was too small. He was big. Not just big, but kind of lumpy looking. He was by himself, and I really felt for him.

Anyhow, he saw me looking at him and started to head my way. God help me, but I could imagine a guy with a tuba playing notes, walking behind him as he ponderously came toward me. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him. He asked if he could help, so I said, “sure.” I thought maybe he was some kind of rain man math genius or something, but he wasn’t, and he kind of messed up my Soduku puzzle. Oh well, I was glad to be company for him.We chatted an he said his name was Lewis. His parents were out shopping and had left him there. He had a friend somewhere, but that friend had run off. We talked about video games for a minute (he likes all the Lego games, but Pirates of the Caribbean was his favorite).It was getting time to go, so I told Lewis I had to go find my daughter. He said he’d come along. As we were walking, he said “I sure am hungry and could go for something to eat. Yup, sure am hungry.” I told him I had given my daughter all my cash or else I’d buy him something. He said, “we better find her, then.”

Both his shoes were untied and I told him to tie them. He said, “I know, I like them that way.” I told him he was going to fall and break his noggin’, but he just shrugged.

Lewis and I found my daughter making crafts in the cafeteria. I borrowed back $2 from her and gave them to Lewis, who ran off after a snow-cone. He diligently returned, inhaling the icy mess. It was bright red, and he said, “it’s like the ocean after a bloody battle.” He still had the other dollar and said he was keeping it in case the one snow cone didn’t hit the spot.

Meanwhile, my daughter came over, distraught that I had taken the money back from her, because she and her friends now wanted candy. I said, “Sorry, I don’t have any more money.” Lewis looked at her and then at me and motioned for me to take the extra dollar back. He would sacrifice.

Later, it was time to go. Lewis followed me into the gym as I was trying to find my daughter. The last I saw of him was his big body standing in the frame of the door, looking for me, and then he got lost in the crowd. I tried to find him to say goodbye, but lost track of him.

Godspeed, Lewis. Godspeed.

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