Have YOU been Naughty or Nice?

Bird Droppings December 4, 2022

Have YOU been Naughty or Nice?

I have been away from my computer for much of the past week. Schoolwork, working around the house, and several Christmas shopping trips kept me uninspired to write. I have a friend who has chosen to do an act of kindness daily. She committed to being who she feels we should be. I shared a December kindness calendar about a week ago on my Facebook page. I try to live my life that way, and I make mistakes. But each day, she has posted her act. At first, I was somewhat skeptical, but as she has gone each day, if we log in even for a week, our kindness may embed in us, and we can carry it forward. A former student who works at a fast-food store happened to be in the drive-through a few nights ago and had three in a row pay it forward until the one lady pulled up who ordered three cookies and was complaining the woman ahead of her took so long. Her three cookies had been paid for, and she was complaining. A few minutes later, the woman who “took so long” returned. She had forgotten to order fries, and she paid it forward again, so my former student at least had a good ending to her story.

“The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” William Wordsworth

One day when you look back and try and remember what that act was I did, or when I did it, you may not remember, but the person to whom that small act of kindness was paid will. I recall a specific visit from Santa Claus as he visits the family gathering on Christmas Eve every year. Coincidently, he had a letter of sorts, more of a naughty and nice list. At the top of the naughty list were Uncle Frank, several other uncles, and my grand niece’s daddy. My granddaughter, several grandnieces, and a brand-new niece-in-law were at the top of the Nice list. Several years back, we had our oldest niece come over, and with Santa, they looked at all the names as I read them to her. She was so excited about the two of them. Of course, she ran around the room, showing everyone. It was so funny that her daddy’s name on the naughty list intrigued her. She knew why exactly; her daddy had scolded her a few days before. The list was a total afterthought, yet my niece took it home that year. As I sit here thinking back just a day or two, my granddaughter was mad at her daddy and told him he would be on the naughty list.

Every once in a while, I will run into someone in person or online who had met my father over the years before he journeyed on in 2007. It has been a number of years since he last spoke publicly, back in the day, as my youngest son says. He taught numerous Red Cross courses and actual teaching as a professional in Industrial Safety and Loss Control. Many people mentioned how his Red Cross first aid class saved a life here and there or some interaction with another where he did this or changed their lives. Occasionally when I would mention it to him, he would remember the event, but often it was simply his way of living and how he went about the day.

I recalled a favorite story about my father from South Africa about thirty years ago. He was there teaching and lecturing for the Chamber of Mines, and one of the senior officers of The Chamber lent his driver and car to Dad while he was there. A young black South African, a member of one of South Africa’s many distinct tribes, this young man had come into the city to earn enough money to go home and marry. Many young men would leave their homes, some for as long as twenty years, to make enough money to go back to their villages and marry. Dad spent eight weeks in South Africa on every trip, much like others traveling to many mines around Johannesburg and in the backcountry. This young man was always ready and kept Dad on time many times, getting him to numerous meetings and functions in this foreign country all day.

When it was time to head home, Dad had come to like this young man, and as he dropped him off at the airport, Dad tipped him the remaining South African money he had, about five hundred equivalent US dollars in their currency. He later found out that was equivalent to three years of work. Dad got a telegram when he got home from his good friend in South Africa asking what my father did to his driver.  As soon as he returned from the airport, he quit his job and returned to his tribe. Dad had given him enough money to go home and be married; a seemingly small act of kindness, a tip to this young man, changed his life.

“Once in a century, a man may be ruined or made insufferable by praise. But surely once in a minute, something generous dies for want of it.” John Masefield

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop

Scattered about in our lives are the bits and pieces of events we often do not remember, but that person we responded to kindly or in a way that helped them will be remembered forever.

“The flower of kindness will grow. Maybe not now, but it will someday. And in kind that kindness will flow, for kindness grows in this way.” Robert Allan

“Is there anyone maxim which ought to be acted upon throughout one’s whole life? Surely the maxim of loving kindness is such: Do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you.” Confucius, from the Analects

Interestingly, this statement sounds so familiar that Confucius first wrote it nearly 500 BCE in China in his Analects, a series of statements and stories, repeated many times in other cultures and religions and even prior in the words of others.

“Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.” Fredrick W. Faber

“If you were busy being kind before you knew it, you would find you’d soon forget to think ’twas true that someone was unkind to you. If you were busy being glad and cheering people who are sad, although your heart might ache a bit, you’d soon forget to notice it.” R. Foreman

There are far too few cheerleaders in the world, although there are days I would say too many, especially with all the drama with the cheerleaders at our high school over the years. When I was teaching, the cheerleaders often came by my room; it seemed I was the one taking photos at events, and Mr. Bird’s wall of fame was a focal point for many students coming to see who had been added. One cheerleader, in particular, has never once had a frown; she is always excited and happy. She is always saying good words to friends. I have never seen her gossip or speak badly of another person, and I have never heard a bad word about her. So often in the morning. When she walks down the hallways with others, all are soon laughing.

“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.” Washington Irving

“He was so benevolent, so merciful a man that, in his mistaken passion, he would have held an umbrella over a duck in a shower of rain.” Douglas William Jerrold

“To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.” Samuel Johnson

It is seldom that someone complains about another person being nice to them. Maybe Dr. Seuss’s character, the Grinch, but even he fell sway to the little Who, Cindy Loo Who. Kindness can win battles, and kindness can win or prevent a war. Random acts of kindness can provide the catalyst for world change.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, and kindness in your smile.” Mother Theresa

“If someone were to pay you $.10 for every kind word you ever spoke and collect $.05 for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?” Nonpareil

As I sit and write, I often wonder if anyone is reading or hearing what is said. Daily I get notes and emails; I know today that this word touched someone. How many words need to be spoken or emailed to have world peace? If it is a hundred million, let’s start now. If it is a hundred billion, let’s start now. We all know there is a number, and we all know we will attain that goal one day. One day maybe I will never have to end Bird Droppings again this way, but with three high school students recently shot, not today; please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and be sure always to give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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