This Shabbos we had another Shabbos Inspire. While it is a beautiful thing and definitely a praiseworthy effort for all that participate, why can’t we take this into the rest of the week? How would we do this you may ask? I propose a week of doing random little acts of kindness and perhaps going the extra mile to help others as a week of inspiration.
2 years ago in a Starbucks in Florida there was a small act of kindness that went a longer way then anyone would have expected. A young lady paid for her coffee and for the person next in line’s coffee as well. The next person continued the chain by paying for the customer who was after her. This continued for 11 hours and a whopping 378 people. The streak ended as the 379th person declined to continue the chain of paying it forward.
It does not have to be something that costs money or has a wow factor to it. It can be something as cliché as helping an old lady cross the street or smiling and saying good morning to someone on the street. You never know what a person is going through and even the smallest seemingly insignificant things can brighten up a person’s day. Just like the example of the boss who gets yelled at by his spouse, then yells at his employee who in turn yells at his spouse who yells at their kid who then picks on another kid who turns out to be the bosses kid who make his mom’s life miserable and that causes the chain to keep going around.
I would like to think that people are good and that we all want to be nice and do the right thing. What gets in the way of that? Life can be very hectic and there is very rarely if any instance when we don’t have some issue that is occupying our thoughts. This usually keeps us from noticing little details about the world around us and the people in it. For instance when was the last time you thought about how fortunate we are that we are able to feel the warm sunlight against our skin or see the different colors that Hashem paints the portrait for us each day? How often do we view walking somewhere as an inconvenience and prefer to take the car instead (not talking about when in a rush to get somewhere). What if instead we took the time to appreciate that we have 2 feet that work. How about our health? When a person has a cold they think about how grateful they will be when it goes away and then what happens? The person thinks about it for maybe 5 minutes or at most a day and then it is back to taking it for granted.
All of things are the little acts of kindness Hashem does for us each day. Imagine if we took the extra minute a day to do something nice for someone else without expecting something in return the worst that can happen is that it will not be appreciated or noticed. The various benefits are you can make a friend, you can strengthen a friendship, you can put a smile on a person’s face, perhaps even your own.
We live in an age of selfishness. We see videos of horrendous things taken by people who lift a finger only to take a video and perhaps become famous rather than help a fellow person. But that is something to be addressed in the future. For right now let us start off with one random act of kindness a day without expecting some sort of payment in return and see how we can make change within our own community.
Pay It Forward (PDF)