By Chris Hunsinger, PCB President-Elect
The beginning of the holiday season always puts me into a contemplative mood. This year I started by thinking about meaningless holiday gifts like gift cards or money. I know that I make those choices because I don’t want to spend the energy thinking about the best gift for a person for the holidays. Also, most people I know and love, can get themselves what they want when they want it, so what gifts do I have to give them? Unusual food might work for most of my friends and family, but I believe that there are gifts that I can give my community and society at large as well.
I don’t say “Thank You” often enough. I hope that I thank people when they help me, but shouldn’t I do even more? Do I just take it for granted that people will give me a hand when I
need it? I usually read the ”Random Acts of Kindness” article each Thursday in my local paper. Often people mention someone surprising them by paying for their meal at a restaurant because they are old, seemed to be so happy spending time with friends, a Veteran, or just might look a little down on their luck. Many of those people promise to pay it forward at some time in the future.
Sometimes the kindness mentioned has something to do with not being taken advantage of by a stranger who instead helps an individual who has fallen, or who has lost their wallet, or who forgot their groceries, or only realized that they didn’t have their wallet when they went to pay for the groceries.
I don’t think that I have ever seen one of those Random Acts of Kindness stories written by a person with vision loss thanking someone for helping sort out a street crossing or the confusion in a busy theater lobby after a play or concert. I have had lots of times when that little bit of help from a stranger was appreciated. I know that I am as guilty as the next person because I’ve never written about the individual who helped me find an airport gate or the proper line to stand in for an event. I’ve certainly been grateful for the help, and I am as aware as those who actually write the articles that anyone who takes that extra step restores our faith in the goodness of people, but I’d just like to find a meaningful way to pay that help forward.
I can’t often pay it forward in kind, but I can instead be kind to people who need a smile and a word of encouragement. I can’t spot that dropped wallet, but I can wait with someone who is anxious and needs company while waiting for a shared ride, or a friend, or family member to pick them up after an event.
Perhaps we all should consider ways to thank society at large for the kindness of strangers. I can make charitable contributions, and I do that each year, but I think that treating people with dignity and kindness is important as well. Please take the time to be kind to people because we all can use a figurative hug on occasion.