Ripples of Kindness (Guest Post 1)

The following is a guest post from Steve, author of the beautiful and thought-provoking Growth Journal blog. All his posts are incredibly insightful and this one about the complex nature of kindness is no different. Sometimes it is difficult to know what the kind thing to do really is in any given situation. But as Steve discusses, all we can really do is follow our instincts and hope for the best.

* * * * * * *

Yesterday I arrived early for work, and so stopped into a shopping centre for coffee. Upon leaving the carpark, I had to stop abruptly due to a dog (a Bull Terrier, I later found out) casually strolling in front of my vehicle.

I watched as the dog sniffed her way across the car park, another car having to stop to avoid hitting her. Realising she was in danger of getting run over before too long, I jumped out and caught her by the collar. She seemed friendly enough, but she had no identification tag. I stood patting her for a while, then promptly gave it up as lost cause and got back into my car, aware that the clock was ticking for the start of my working day.

Then I remembered that the previous Wednesday had been the Day of Kindness: why should that not continue today? So I resolved to try and do the right thing here, and show kindness to… to whom? The dog? Her owner? Other shoppers, some of whom may be afraid of a somewhat scary-looking dog?

I wasn’t sure, but went off the sense that it was the right thing to do. I had no leash, so I went and bought some string, then tried to find the dog, who had since disappeared, eventually locating her over the other end of the shopping centre. I tied her up and called the council, who said they would come to collect her and read her microchip to identify her owner.

It was at this point it occurred to me I might not be doing the dog a kindness after all. I may even have sentenced her to death, if she is found to be unregistered. If she had no identity tag, then wouldn’t she be unlikely to be microchipped, too?

I guess we can’t always know the impacts of the things we do out of kindness. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still act when we feel a call to kindness.

Because kindness is a feeling; a message from our heart to act in the interests of another person. It is not necessarily logical to the mind but, rather than seeking clear outcomes, follows the deeper logic of the heart.

An act of kindness is one heart reaching out for another, irrespective of consequences or fears.

In a way it is a leap of faith; jumping over a wall without knowing what lies on the other side. But that is what makes these acts of kindness so wonderful, too. Because each courageous act of kindness can create a ripple effect that reaches further than we can imagine.

I don’t know what happened to that dog; I hope she was reunited with her owner. But at the very least I know I followed my heart and chose to act in kindness. That choice came from a ripple sent out by this very blog, Year of Kindness. Who knows where that ripple will end?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cameron Brooks
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 23:30:29

    “An act of kindness is one heart reaching out for another, irrespective of consequences or fears.”

    These words bring to mind a children’s book written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, The Three Questions is about a boy who asks, When is the best time? Who is the most important one? And what is the best choice? Harrowing encounters with a mother and daughter panda and a wise old turtle illustrate the human truth you have expressed so succinctly. Wonderful post.


    • happydancecat
      Jul 18, 2011 @ 19:13:00

      It’s a really amazing thought, isn’t it?

      Wow, that sounds like a beautiful story, Cameron. Will have to see if I can track it down.

      Btw, how are you going with setting your students a kindness challenge? Not sure if you saw my reply to your comment about it but I have done kindness projects with preschoolers so I’d be happy to chat to you about ideas and I’d love to hear how you (and they) go with it!


      • Cameron Brooks
        Jul 19, 2011 @ 00:06:05

        Cat, I’d love to hear about your kindness projects with preschoolers. I teach 3rd grade (8 and 9 year olds), and school starts in a couple weeks. We’ll definitely begin by finding the 100th day of school on a calendar, then discuss prior experience and what kindness means to them. After that, maybe we’ll do some brainstorming and make a class list of acts of kindness. I think the most important point to make is that kindness comes in so many forms and that it should be extended to all living things. Please let me know what you think, and thanks again for the inspiration.

  2. Steve
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 19:11:23

    Thanks Cameron. I’ll check out the book – sounds beautiful!


  3. positivityiskey
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 19:49:55

    Loved the story about the dog! We once had a bull terrier who leaped over a wall (chasing a rat) not realising that the other side of the wall dropped away about 2 metres! One dog, one broken leg, one lucky rat . . . . . A very insightful and thought provoking post, thank you!



  4. happydancecat
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 22:12:18

    Cameron – that sounds like a brilliant place to start! I love the focus on all living things, too, so that they could start to think about how to be kinder to animals and the environment as well. With my preschoolers we talked and brainstormed and read stories about kindness. Then we painted and cut out a big ‘Kindness Tree’ to put on the wall, and every time a child did something kind they could add a new leaf to the tree. They absolutely loved it! I think its great to have something visual like that they they can actually see and interact with. There’s also a book you should check out called ‘Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness’ (Conari Press) which was a project for primary school children around the world to do their own RAK and then write it down and draw a picture if they wish. It’s gorgeous! And so creative. Can’t wait to hear what your kids get up to. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: