All is not well…and goodness abounds

Written by Maria Sirois
May 5, 2024

Last night, at approximately 9:30 pm, our small neighborhood was awoken by the sounds of popping bursts and fire truck sirens. Our neighbor’s truck had lit on fire…perhaps a lithium battery fault in the bed of the truck? Flames took down the truck, the carport, and headed toward the home, where the truck’s owner’s mom slept. A mom who had recently lost her husband. She needed no more strain and yet here it was. Combustion out of the blue.

Five of us left our homes to come down to the street and see what was needed. Were they safe? Did anyone need a bed for the night? A trip to the hospital? Such small questions, small gestures – get out of bed, put your clothes on, head out the door and reach out a hand. And it turns out we were not actually needed last night. The professionals had it all in hand. And still…that isn’t what matters.

What matters is that kindness lives, as vibrantly as the lilac and lavender blooms that will grace the fields of the Northeast as spring takes hold.

That darkness abounds is not up for question.

That kindness continues to flourish – we seem to need reminders of this. We must look past the largest boldest headlines to notice the river of care that exists everywhere.

We need a stream of evidence that sustains the better parts of ourselves and we must participate in that stream.

As scientists in the field of positive psychology and social psychology continue to identify those qualities that represent the best of us I have a vote to cast (read Scott Barry Kaufman’s work on the Light Triad of Humanity, or visit the research on character strengths). Of all that we may possess in terms of virtue and goodness (tenderness, compassion, perspective, fairness as just a few examples) I cast my vote for generosity – for the kindness of the human being to reach toward another and offer aid. And while it truly doesn’t matter which characteristic is at the top of some hypothetical competition, I do believe there are some qualities that ensure, more often than not, that we will survive with our goodness intact and that future generations have a place to live and a surround of hope. I place my bet on kindness.

May kindness come to you today and every day. That is an easy prayer. I offer a more difficult one here as well. May we each find a way to put to the side, for a moment, our fear and worry and torments, and draw from the well of generosity within us. Offer one small gesture today so that we too may become of the river of care, so that we trigger an upward spiral of kindness and so that we may be able to say, no matter how difficult the moment, how high or hot the flames, that we had a choice and we made that choice on the side of the good.

Our street is quiet this morning. Many will wake to read the paper and be surprised that anything at all out of the norm happened last night. But a few of us wake with the scent of lilac in our gardens and in our souls. Warm-heartedness lives here. And will do so again.


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