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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
We are easily duped by those we love. - Moliere

Love is the greatest refreshment in life. - Pablo Picasso

Tis brief, my lord... as woman's love. - William Shakespeare

Write injuries in sand, kindness in marble. - French Proverb

Love should be allowed. I'm all for it. - Truman Capote

Compromises are for relationships, not wine. - Robert S Caywood

Love is an exploding cigar that you willingly smoke. - Lynda Barry

Love beauty; it is the shadow of God on the universe. - Gabriela Mistral

Love your enemy - it will scare the hell out of them. - Mark Twain

Inspiration fires you up; motivation keeps you burning. - Stuart Aken

Love is a fair garden, and marriage a field of nettles. - Finnish Proverb

Love conquers all things - except poverty and toothache. - Mae West

I can live without money, but I cannot live without love. - Judy Garland

First love is a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity. - George Bernard Shaw

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

A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her. - Oscar Wilde

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

A man is often too young to marry, but a man is never too old to love. - Finnish Proverb

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. - Thomas Edison

Leadership consists of picking good men and helping them do their best. - Chester W Mimitz

One is never wounded by the love one gives; only by the love one expects. - Marty Rubin

I love seafood. I'm not a vegetarian but I'm probably a pescetarian. - Padma Lakshmi

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

Don't feel stupid if you don't like what everyone else pretends to love. - Emma Watson

We have within us an extraordinary capacity for love, joy, and unshakable freedom. - Jack Kornfield

Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that. - Michael Leunig

Anger begets more anger, and forgiveness and love lead to more forgiveness and love. - Mahavira

Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance. - Oscar Wilde

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. - Lao Tzu

Every crucial experience can be regarded as a setback - or the start of a new kind of development. - Mary R Rinehart

Through compassion and care we are compelled to random acts of kindness and demonstrations of love. - Jean Hamilton-Ford

Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song. - Pam Brown

But you cant shut everyone out. I mean you have to have someone to love... someone to hold on to... someone - - Hubert Selby Jr.

I'm working on a second cookbook and am working on my love story, 'Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.' - Ree Drummond

I choose to love you in silence because in silence I find no rejection, and in silence no one owns you but me. - Unknown

There is an endearing tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart. - Washington Irving

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

Three of the most difficult phrases people can't say:
1. I love you
2. I'm sorry
3. I don't know - Joe Segal

A father is neither an anchor to hold us back nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way. - Unknown

I can't promise that I'll be here for the rest of your life, but I can promise that I'll love you for the rest of mine. - Unknown


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