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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 more. Worry Less. - Unknown

Trust is the first step to love. - Munshi Premchand

True love stories never have endings. - Richard Bach

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there. - Robert Browning

It is not love that is blind, but jealousy. - Lawrence Durrell

A person is only as good as what they love. - Saul Bellow

It really kind of infilterates the noh-strils. - Archie Bunker

Treasure your relationships, not your possessions. - Anthony J. D'Angelo

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. - H L Mencken

Love is, or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all. - Toni Morrison

It takes more love to share the saddle than it does to share the bed. - Unknown

A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love. - Stendhal

In some countries you love your neighbors, and in others you eat them. - Ravi Zacharias

Love is a word consisting of two vowels, two consonants, and two fools. - Jeff Rovin

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

Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love. - John le Carre

As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words. - William Shakespeare

I love my squirrel and dumplings, but you can make it with chicken and dumplings. - Kay Robertson

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

My husband and I fell in love at first sight. Maybe I should have taken a second look. - Mia Farrow

When you're in love, it's the most glorious two-and-a-half minutes of your life. - Richard Lewis

Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear. - John Lennon

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

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

I love Valentine's Day! I love it, I love it, I love it. I like having doors opened for me. - Ginnifer Goodwin

The most beautiful thing in the world is, precisely, the conjunction of learning and inspiration. - Wanda Landowska

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

My love life is terrible. The last time I was inside a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty. - Woody Allen

It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What's the earth with all its art, verse, music, worth -
Compared with love, found, gained, and kept? - Robert Browning

Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks. - Johann Gottfried Von Herder

This is one of the miracles of love: it gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted. - C S Lewis

God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, 'I love you.' - Billy Graham

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

There's a limit to how many times you can read how great you are and what an inspiration you are, but I'm not there yet. - Randy Pausch

You have to do what you love to do, not get stuck in that comfort zone of a regular job. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it. - Lucinda Basset

The Cross was the manifestation of Divine love without reserve or limit; but it was also the expression of man's unutterable malignity. - Robert Anderson

When he wanted to take her picture, he didn't tell her to smile, but told her, "I love you" and her smile was more beautiful. - Unknown

I used to live an isolated existence, even in relationships, but now my family knows me for who I really am. Mostly, that's a good thing. - Tim Allen


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