Saturday, November 29, 2008

“. . . thoughtful responsible . . .”

Whenever I hear Susan Stamberg, guest commentator/host for Morning Edition and Weekend Edition on NPR, my ears perk up and I take note. Her matriarchal voice and grandmotherly commentary inevitably catch me listening with intent often while hanging out in my car or in a room longer than I would otherwise choose. Listening to her, captured in idyll thought, I must frustrate those people 90 degrees from me at an intersection as they wonder why I gave up a green light.

I can still remember. . . several years ago, while driving in my car she was doing a piece, which was a follow-up on a recent appeal that was made to listeners where they were asked to write in their own experiences with random acts of kindness. Touching and extremely thoughtful with story after story, I found my eyes welling up listening to these various kind gestures on the part of anonymous people. One story was of a woman who clearly remembered when she was 13 years old and her parents had just divorced and the upcoming holidays were looking pretty grim. On Christmas morning there was a knock at the back door and upon inspection there was no one there but there were ten huge bags of presents and food. To this day she does not know who did such a kind deed.

A California woman spoke of the time when her family was on a picnic and they were about to dig into mom’s famous potato salad when mom excused herself with her heaping plate and walked 20 feet toward a man who was picking through the trash. She handed the man her plate and walked back to our family. Years later, I asked my mother if she remembered the incident and she replied, “Not at all.” The daughter went on to say, “My mother’s act was a touchstone of what good deeds became in my life.”

These stories never fail to restore my faith in people and inspire me to do something good for another person. No matter how young or old, everyone appreciates kind acts whether received or given. Imagine how powerful a kind act given to a child is. You not only help the child with the deed, but you also model for him/her to pass on the kindness to another person. Not a particularly popular movie but a personal favorite, "Pay it Forward" staring Haley Joel Osment, as a seventh grader, Helen Hunt, as his mother, and Kevin Spacey, as a social studies teacher, speaks to this idea eloquently.

If you happen to be in front of a computer looking for something to do, go to the NPR site and listen to Susan Stamberg’s piece, “Stories of Good Deeds.” I assure you that it will be well worth the seven minutes and seven seconds it takes to listen to the piece, and while you are there, give thought to our very own mission statement where it says “Our children learn to be thoughtful responsible citizens of the School and the world around them.”


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