Since the war in Ukraine began, thousands of refugees have left the country to find safety – especially for their children – from the horrors of the war. Most of us have seen the media coverage of mothers and children crossing the borders to places like Poland which have provided them safe sanctuary. Last week I watched a documentary about Ukrainian ballet dancers who have been welcomed into the Netherlands where they have formed a new company called the United Ukrainian Ballet Company to continue their artistry to raise money and awareness of the war. As these thousands of folks have crossed the borders to safety, there have emerged countless stories of kindness. Countries, cities, organizations and individuals have embraced these folks they have never met.
Despite the politics of it all, daily people are finding their way across our own southern border as well. Again, I hear reports of folks in the border towns who are coming together through their local governments, churches and other organizations to help them survive. Even in places as far away as New York City, behind the headlines in the media, citizens are finding ways to help.
In Maui, wildfires swept through the town of Lahaina. Today other Hawaiians are gathering and distributing food and clothing to the victims of that tragedy. Every week in Charlotte, folks make sandwiches for the unhoused and help deliver food and supplies through Loaves and Fishes.
Kindness in the Human Spirit
Why? I believe kindness is a value deeply embedded in the human spirit. As human beings, we cannot ignore our brothers and sisters. When others are in need, compassion rises to the surface. To Ukrainians and the others in need kindness has surfaced as places to sleep, clothing, food and much more. In those circumstances kindness has been a lifeline and often a life saver. People believe that “Kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give”.
Coincidentally, in the past weeks my pastor has been preaching about the direction from the Bible… “to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly…” Micah 6:8. Be fair. Be kind. Be humble. All this seems like good direction for dads.
Kindness. A simple concept really. Synonyms include compassion, thoughtfulness, helpfulness and even humanity. Treating others as you would want to be treated yourself. A hand up when you are down. A push when you are behind. A gentle redirection when you come offline. A pat on the back when you succeed. Kindness. Simple, yet powerful.
Kindness in Carpool Line
Kindness. It begins with a welcoming spirit and often with small acts. Locally, Dad groups display kindness when they open doors in carpool line. Smiling faces. Friendly greetings. Waves to parents and high fives to students beginning their days. We know that all makes a difference for the kids, not only that specific day, but continually as the process repeats itself. Kids feel the constancy of that kindness. Carpool line. Do justice. Everyone welcomed in the same way. Love kindness. A dad bending to help a child reach the curb. Walk humbly. Focus on the children.
Teaching Our Children
Carpool line may be a good first step. Dads should continue to display and impart kindness after these one-time events. We must assure that kindness will continue to encircle the students as they pursue their academics and grow as human beings … so they will know that someone cares about them moving closer to their envisioned purpose. Aristotle observed, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Are we teaching our children the value of kindness? Are we teaching our children to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing they may show hospitality to angels …? And understanding that one day they may be the angels who benefit from others’ hospitality?
What the World Needs Now
I wonder what would happen if we started every human interaction with kindness? Kindness can increase our sense of connectivity with others, decrease loneliness, combat low mood, and improve relationships. It also can be contagious, encouraging others to join in with their own generous deeds. By being kind to others, sharing stories of kindness and encouraging others to pay acts of kindness forward, we can help to create a more positive and caring society. With kindness, our children can change the world. To paraphrase the old song, like love, kindness is “what the world needs now”.
I have hope because I have seen kindness beyond carpool line. I have seen kindness in dads who mentor young boys. I have seen kindness in conversations among lunch buddies and in tutoring sessions. I see kindness when dads are present to walk the halls of a school. Kindness. A concept for the ages. A gift that keeps on giving. I feel confident that those children who have received kindness will know to pass it on when the time comes.
Another value for the backpacks.