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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
Love one another as I have loved you. - Jesus Christ

Inspiration is remembering the future. - Unknown

In tennis, a love match is always possible. - Unknown

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

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular? - Unknown

Love is a game that two can play and both win. - Eva Gabor

A brush of kindness can paint a smile on a face. - Robert M. Hensel

Mr. President, I love you, but you're wrong. - Paul Harvey

Make love, not war... or get married and do both. - Unknown

Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness. - Sigmund Freud

I love fools' experiments. I am always making them. - Charles Darwin

Love is friendship set on fire. Hate is friendship burned. - Jeremy Taylor

So many catastrophes in love are only accidents of egotism. - Hector Bianciotti

Math, it's a puzzle to me. I love figuring out puzzles. - Maya Lin

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

Kind words will never die - neither will they buy groceries. - Bill Nye

Love is most nearly itself when the here and now cease to matter. - T S Eliot

Falling in love and having a relationship are two different things. - Keanu Reeves

He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of. - Mae West

In love as in sport, the amateur status must be strictly maintained. - Robert Graves

I'm kind of known for something that's not so great to be known for. - Monica Lewinsky

Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl. - Stephen Leacock

I love romance. I'm a sucker for it. I love it so much. It's pathetic. - Drew Barrymore

Peppering your relationship with a dash of mystery can make it far more palatable. - Khang K. Nguyen

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

I'm tired of praise; and love is very sweet, when it is simple and sincere like this. - Louisa May Alcott

Love is not only the story of butterflies or birds; it is also the story of jackals and hounds. - M.F. Moonzajer

True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked. - Erich Segal

Love thy neighbor - and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier. - Mae West

We challenge one another to be funnier and smarter ... It's the way friends make love to one another. - Annie Gottlieb

The more anger towards the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are of loving in the present. - Barbara de Angelis

Yoga is really trying to liberate us from shame about our bodies. To love your body is a very important thing. - Rodney Yee

People are weird. When we find someone with weirdness that is compatible with ours, we team up and call it love. - Dr. Seuss

The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future. - Stephen Ambrose

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite. - William Shakespeare

Nothing prepared me for being this awesome. It's kind of a shock to wake up every morning and be bathed in this purple light. - Bill Murray

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? - Scott Adams

Or maybe spring is the season of love and fall the season of mad lust. Spring for flirting but fall for the untamed delicious wild thing. - Elizabeth Cohen

Two important things are to have a genuine interest in people and to be kind to them. Kindness, I've discovered, is everything in life. - Isaac Bashevis Singer

If you never want to see a man again, just tell him, "I love you. I want to marry you. I want to have children." They leave skid marks. - Rita Rudner


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