When I wondered what to write about for World Kindness Day, an annual celebration of kindness held every November 13th, something came to mind which I bore witness to, years ago on the streets of downtown Toronto.
I was standing outside a fast food restaurant, waiting for a friend to come out and witnessed something I will never forget. There was an older man wearing very dirty and old clothing sitting on the sidewalk with his back leaning against the outdoor wall of a business. He had a hat in front of him and was asking for money.
Most people would walk by, but one woman stopped and said to him, “You don’t know me but my name is Gwen. May I ask, what is your name?”
“Reggie”, he said. “Nice to meet you.” He then reached out his rugged hand, obviously surprised by her sincere kindness. She shook his hand and then asked him if he could do her a favor. He paused a moment and then said, “Sure.”
This woman then reached in her pockets and said, “I have a lot of spare change in my pockets that I would like to get rid of as it’s really weighing me down”
“Would you be so kind as to take it off my hands?” She then reached into her coat pockets and pulled out handfuls of change and handed it to him. The man realized he couldn’t take it all in his hands so he picked up his hat and the woman placed the loose change in his hat. “Thank you, Reggie”, she said, and walked off.
“Your welcome,” he said, with a smile on his face.
What really struck me, though, was not the way this woman treated this street beggar like a person by allowing him to keep his dignity, but the fact that I had seen her earlier that day on a street corner playing the harmonica for money. I did not know her story or his on how they ended up on the street. But we can learn something about kindness from this story.
A bit about the history of World Kindness Day, which is observed on November 13th annually: It was first celebrated in 1998 by The World Kindness Movement, which is an organization formed at a 1997 Tokyo conference by like-minded kindness organizations from around the world. It is observed in many countries, including Japan, Canada, Nigeria, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Kindness has a language all its own. It is about offering another human being a clean slate each and every time we come into contact with them. Kindness is a language that trancends race, culture, religion, politics, geography and gender.
Remember the golden rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Matthew 7:12, is known as the spiritual gift of rectitude, or “imitation of God.” It is the ultimate ethical principle. Kindness is not merely an action, but an outcome of a heart filled with love for our Creator. Here are just a few examples of what we can do on World Kindness Day – and each and every day – to make the world a brighter place.
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