Kindness and politeness are not overrated at all. They’re underused – Tommy Lee Jones
Rippled By Kindness
Holocaust Survivor Lily Ebert went through a harrowing ordeal at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Despite all odds, she survived and was eventually liberated by Allied Forces while on a death march. After weeks of receiving care from her rescuers, she was transferred to Buchenwald, which accommodated Jewish survivors. Ebert and her sisters learned the Swiss government was offering shelter to Jewish children, and they were given permission to relocate to Switzerland. Before departing, one of the liberating soldiers gifted her a German banknote with “As a start to a new life. Good luck and happiness” written. He signed his name. At a traumatic time, this small act of kindness became a bridge between despair and hope for Lily. It only took a few minutes, but it lingered with Lily for the rest of her life.
Just like a small rock creates ripples in a river, an act of kindness regardless of size can reverberate in our world. Lily held on to the banknote as a symbol of hope. She never saw Pvt. Hyman Schulman again, but the note remained in her possession. In 2020, at the age of 90, Lily found the note and tried to track down Pvt. Schulman. Though Schulman passed away in 2013, his act of kindness was still living and making an impact. This is the power of kindness. Its use in daily life creates ripples.
How To Make Your Ripples
What can you do with water, vinegar, dish soap, and food coloring in a bowl? The combination of these household items makes a volcano. I only discovered it because it was a school project our daughter Esther did as part of homeschooling during the pandemic lockdown. Last week’s blog described how the granules of compassion, empathy, and service contribute to service. If a banknote combined with words of encouragement can initiate hope in the heart, what other simple ways can create a volcanic eruption of kindness that makes a difference?
1. Be A Proactive Helper: When I received the devastating news that my dad passed away back in 2012, it was a difficult moment for me. My first role model and teacher was my dad, who always signed every report card I brought home “Keep on Keeping on,” the same words I write at the end of each blog post. He taught me how to be a man, a good friend, a husband, and a father. Through actions and words, he taught me lessons that I reap benefits from today. When he died, my friend,, Samson was first on the scene at my house to pack my bags to travel to Kenya to be with my mum and plan for the funeral. He dropped everything to become a helper in a time of great need. A proactive helper doesn’t just notice the situation but looks for ways to act supportively. Does someone around you have a need that you can step in and proactively meet? The smallest act of kindness makes a tremendous difference
2. Be A Compassionate Listener: Most of the time when we ask someone, “How are you doing?” we use it as a formality rather than an opportunity for intentional compassionate listening. Through her example, my wife, Caroline constantly teaches me that compassionate listening is part of building a strong marriage. She listens and then asks questions or gives feedback to let me know she is paying attention. I believe a listening ear is an act of kindness. Listening communicates, “You are worth my time.” Anytime this is communicated, you make an indelible mark in someone’s heart. The next time someone talks, listen fully. It may be the greatest act of kindness you give at that moment.
Final Thought: Though Lily Ebert never met Pvt. Schulman again, the small act of kindness connected her to Schulman’s children. Who knew that such kindness would travel down the line of decades and reach a generation that was not present at the moment Schulman did the act? Moreover, who knows how far a simple act of kindness you perform today will travel throughout the lives of those you touch? Every day, kindness, whether by being a proactive helper, a compassionate listener, or, writing a thank you note, giving a gift card, babysitting for a single mother who just needs a break, visiting someone who is sick, or paying for someone’s groceries at the store, knocks at the door of our hearts. Will you answer and make ripples?
Keep on Keeping on!