“One love. One heart. Let’s get together and feel alright. Hear the children crying... hear the children crying...” Bob Marley, “One Love”
It’s been a difficult week for people with hearts, and I’ll get to that. But first, I want to tell you a kindness story.
This week, my husband was standing in line, waiting to pick up our lunch at Subway (they have a veggie patty vegan option sandwich!) when the man behind him asked quietly, “can I buy your lunch today?”
My husband said he was a little surprised and couldn’t help asking the man why he wanted to do that.
“It just hit me right now that it’s something I should do,” the man replied.
Many of us have heard these stories, but nothing like this had ever happened to us personally. So my husband asked repeatedly if there was something he had done or said to make the stranger want to buy our lunch.
But he just kept saying it was something he wanted to do.
They shook hands and my husband said, “Well, I guess it's my turn. I'll keep it going.”
He told me this story when he got back in the car and I started to cry. Because, you know, it has been a tough week in this country. And I’ve been crying a lot.
I don’t know. Maybe that’s why it “just hit” the man “right then” that he should offer to show us a kindness. Maybe his heart was hurting this week, too. And instead of getting angry, instead of arguing with people on social media or at work or with family members, he decided to do something nice for someone else. This one small thing. For absolutely no reason at all.
I learned a lot from that stranger this week. I wish I could thank him and talk to him more. Because he reinforced a lesson I try to remember every day. We can CHOOSE to be kind.
It. Is. A. Choice.
Kindness, empathy, compassion, gratitude, showing love. Those are choices. I’m not here to preach, because I stop myself many times in a day and think I could have responded to a situation better or handled it differently.
But I am trying to be better. It’s part of this chapter in life and I hope it will be part of every chapter until my book is closed.
But here’s something I already know. We have to see and respect and value our diversity and our common humanity. Diversity is beautiful. I grew up near Houston, Texas, one of the most diverse cities in the country. In my classes in school were people of every race and religion and many of them spoke different languages at home than they did around their classmates. And many of their parents weren’t born in this country.
In college, I met two women who became two of my best friends and some of the most beautiful people in my life. Their families came to America seeking asylum from war-torn countries. They are kind. And compassionate. And brilliant. And generous. And they’re making incredible contributions to our society. And I am personally better for knowing them and for knowing their stories.
My little niece will be one year old in August. Her ancestors are Mexican, American, Russian, Spanish, Polish and English (and that's just what I know for sure). Her grandparents are Jewish, Methodist and Catholic. I proudly celebrate her diversity and I remember... she is all of us.
My friends.... it is not “us” vs. “them.” It is just us. As Bob Marley sings, One Love, One Heart. The sooner we can learn to imagine ourselves in the shoes of someone else, the fewer weeks we’ll have like this one.
Now back to the story. Before he walked out the door, my husband learned that stranger’s name was Benjamin. He was a tall, quiet, black gentleman wearing a suit (probably on his lunch break from work) in Tallahassee, Florida.
Thank you for choosing kindness, Benjamin. You made a difference in our lives this week and we are taking our turn seriously. You, sir, are a good human.