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What Good Shall I Do This Day?

Call to action: Do something about Failures of Kindness

What Good Shall I Do This Day? thanks to Dan MacAulay

'Love your neighbor as yourself' - Mark 12:31

In 2018 the writer George Saunders gave a Convocation Speech on the subject of kindness to the graduates of Syracuse University. In the speech, he recalls some of the bigger mistakes and mishaps of his life, and notes that despite their negative consequences, he regrets none of them. Instead, it is a small moment from his youth, a foible of omission rather than commission, that still niggles at him:

"In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class. In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be 'Ellen.' Ellen was small, shy. She wore these blue cat's-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore. When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased ("Your hair taste good?" - that sort of thing). I could see this hurt her. I still remember the way she'd look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear. After awhile she'd drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth. At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: "How was your day, sweetie?" and she'd say, "Oh, fine." And her mother would say, "Making any friends?" and she'd go, "Sure, lots."

Sometimes I'd see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.

And then - they moved. That was it. No tragedy, no big final hazing. One day she was there, next day she wasn't. End of story.

Now, why do I regret that? Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it? Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.

But still. It bothers me. So here's something I know to be true, although it's a little corny, and I don't quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded... Sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly."
 
When I ask myself, 'What good shall I do this day?' this story will never be far from my mind. I found myself looking back over some of the times of my life when I saw hurting or rejected people and I recognized the response of George Saunders as also my response: sensible, reserved, mild.

Make a sincere decision with your life so that you will not miss the opportunities to love your neighbor as yourself, and not allow failures of kindness to be a part of you. This is one of the key ways you can honor God with all of your life.

QuotaBills
I believe in tough love. - Sean Hannity

Kindness begets kindness. - Greek Proverb

Love is the poetry of the senses. - Honore de Balzac

Manners are love in a cool climate. - Quentin Crisp

We are easily duped by those we love. - Moliere

I love the smell of rain and growing things. - Serina Hernandez

I have much more faith in a kind man than I do in mankind. - Unknown

Give them quality. That's the best kind of advertising. - Milton Hershey

They have a kind of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby thing going on. - Christopher Walken

I'm not addicted to coke, I just love the way it smells. - Richard Pryor

What the world really needs is more love and less paper work. - Pearl Bailey

When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain. - Mark Twain

How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time. - Morgan Freeman

It is possible to be in love with you just because of who you are. - Maggie Stiefvater

Perfect love means to love the one through whom one became unhappy. - Soren Kierkegaard

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. - Douglas Adams

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be to their faults a little blind. - Matthew Prior

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. - Mother Teresa

One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry. - Oscar Wilde

Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. - Peter Ustinov

He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. - St. Basil of Caesarea

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

A two-year old is kind of like a blender, but you don't have any top for it. - Jerry Seinfeld

A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others. - Frank Morgan

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. - Bertrand Russell

Love melts the rigor which the rocks have bred; a flint will break upon a feather bed. - John Cleveland

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. - Benjamin Franklin

I still believe that love is all you need. I don't know a better message than that. - Paul McCartney

Success is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration, and 2 percent attention to detail. - Phil

It is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them. - Agatha Christie

I'd kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs. - Cameron Diaz

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. - Og Mandino

I cannot work; I cannot speak; I cannot live or love as I should, unless God's wisdom lights my path. - David Jeremiah

Baloney is the unvarnished lie laid on so thick you hate it. Blarney is flattery laid on so thin you love it. - Fulton J Sheen

God made woman beautiful and foolish; beautiful, that man might love her; and foolish, that she might love him. - Tara Reid

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships. The quality of your business is no different. - Harvey Mackay

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. - Marianne Williamson

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love is much nicer to be in than an automobile accident, a tight girdle, a higher tax bracket, or a holding pattern over Philadelphia. - Judith Viorst

Charity may be a very short word, but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it sums up man's entire relation to God and to his neighbor. - Aelred of Rievaulx


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