“A little kindness goes a long way.” When we hear that saying, we might think of things like holding open a door for someone, reaching down an item from the top shelf at the grocery store, or offering a smile to strangers we pass during the day. Maybe it’s bringing food to someone or babysitting in an emergency. Or perhaps it’s simply listening to a friend when they need to talk.
All of these acts of kindness are different, but they have something in common: They are all personal and mostly immediate. That’s lovely; it’s good to see and to feel that something we did has helped someone else. But there are other acts of kindness where we don’t have that contact and don’t see the results. We write a check to a charitable organization, participate in a fundraiser, or send a card through the mail. We might work on a Habitat for Humanity house yet never meet the family that moves in.
Do we have to know that our acts of kindness have been received? Appreciated? Sometimes there’s fun in not seeing and knowing. We can imagine someone’s delight at finding a casserole at their door, going to the food pantry and finding the shelves fully stocked, or discovering the twenty-dollar bill a friend dropped behind somewhere at their home, knowing that they were in serious need yet not wanting to subject them to the embarrassment of a hand-out.
Our Unitarian Principles express that each and every person has inherent worth and dignity (our First Principle), encourage us to treat others kindly and fairly (Second Principle), and give us the goal of building a fair and peaceful world (Sixth Principle).
Our ongoing Kindness Rocks project weaves these three Principles together and gives our children a tangible way to express them. We place our rocks in an open spot among the plantings near the sidewalk in front of our building. Our hope is that people passing by will notice the rocks, take one if they feel they need a boost, and eventually pass it on to someone else.
Most likely we won’t be there at the precise moment when someone stoops down and picks up a rock, see the look on their face, or be able to know how it affects their heart and mind. But we can imagine. And we can enjoy that good feeling that comes from knowing that we’ve tried to make our community one where kindness is there for the taking.