A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘Kindness Week

Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.

~ Plato, quoted in The Power of Giving by Azim Jamal and Harvey McKinnon

Choose to be kind.

That’s the message Kind Ottawa would like us to live out and the focus of Kindness Week, which runs from February 14th to February 21st.

I would love to see more people making that choice. Because the choice not to be kind is made far too often, as these examples I’ve witnessed show:

  • A woman who has been working very hard to make confirmation classes happen in our parish was on the receiving end of a long, complaining e-mail and a ranting phone call.
  • A patient berated a dental office receptionist while she remained calm and patiently tried to explain to him the process for submitting a claim.
  • At a local department store, customers left their carts all over the parking lot instead of taking them to the nearby cart return—which meant that a store employee had to go all over the lot on a bitterly cold day to collect them.

What does it cost us to take a moment to thank people for their hard work, to put things where they belong in order to save someone else some effort, to offer a word of encouragement or help in learning a skill? These are the things that leave a positive mark on someone’s day—or even their life.

I still remember the way a teacher helped me learn borrowing in subtraction on her time, some high school friends collected homework for me when I had my wisdom teeth removed, a university classmate walked me home at night out of concern for my safety, and a friend tried to help me find a job when I moved to a new city.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Proverbs 18:21 tells us. So why not choose to make our words and acts ones that bring life? Why not thank, encourage and support others in what we say and do?

I pray that we would be inspired to try a little kindness this week and every week, remembering to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

(Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.

Henry James, quoted in The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd Edition

Canadians have a reputation for being polite, and we like to think that ours is a kind and gentle society. But is it really all that kind and gentle?

We don’t have to go back to the demolition of Africville to find examples of racism. I’ve personally heard people make snide comments about members of various ethnic groups, even if they don’t use the racial slurs once so common.

And over the past couple of years, teen suicides have been in the news. Some of these kids—including a friend of my son—were victims of bullying.

These types of intolerant behaviour don’t fit our image of Canadian society. So what can we do to help bring our reality and the ideal closer together?

Here in Ottawa, we’re nearing the end of Kindness Week, which was created by Rabbi Reuven Bulka and is now in its sixth year. As the Kindness Week website points out, by being kind—giving, volunteering, saying thanks, celebrating kindness, and paying it forward—you can make a difference in someone else’s life and be happier yourself.

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The goal: for people to make kindness an everyday habit. So it becomes natural to hold the store door open for a parent with a stroller or to help someone reach an item on a high shelf at the grocery store. Simple actions such as these tell the person, “I notice you.” And when much of our human contact comes through text messages, e-mail and voice mail, isn’t that what we all need sometimes—to be noticed? Read the rest of this entry »


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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