Kindness and Thanksgiving
Last Monday was World Kindness Day 2016. BCTC Students for Peace and Earth Justice held a program at the Cooper Campus. Kindness Day was born when a collection of humanitarian groups came together on November 13, 1997, and made a “Declaration of Kindness” to help focus on the many ways—from random acts of kindness to larger efforts like volunteering or supporting long-term helping initiatives in your community—we can help and support each other. It often costs us nothing to be kind, and I’m sure the “helper” as well as the “helpee” both gain many benefits! Each of us remembers a situation when someone unexpectedly did something nice for us. When that happens to me, I am happier all day! And yet, how often am I aware enough to decide to do that kind act for someone else?
This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US. It is a time to appreciate the good things we have in our lives. Some of us are very fortunate to have the resources to live well, such as to get an education, to work at a job we love, and to be part of a community or church that feeds our souls. Some of us are struggling or frightened. Can we appreciate what we have that is positive in our lives and still reach out to help others? It is said that those who have the least material goods are often the first to open their hearts to others.
How can we be kind and thankful every day? Each of us can decide how to be more thoughtful of others and get out of our own way. I am thinking of these things now, after our divisive and contentious campaign season. Whether your team won or lost, how can we, as Americans or those who are looking for a better life here, come together to denounce hate, bigotry, blaming and shaming, and simplistic and juvenile positions on complex and weighty matters?
Many are saddened by how our national figures have been talking about and to large swaths of our multicultural and rainbow-colored population. Fear is a natural reaction to such rhetoric. It may be easy to distance ourselves from others who do not seem to share our value systems. Barriers can be brought down, however, if people are willing to see what we share rather than only what separates us. If we can be kind and thankful, we will continue to respect and celebrate diversity of background, thought, worldview, and opinion—up the point of threats or harm coming to others who are not like us. A community college is a place where we embrace the variety of ages, career interests, backgrounds, perspectives, talents, and skills of our students and our faculty and staff. Welcome to BCTC, everyone who wants to find a pathway, for themselves or others, through educational experiences, to a better life.