Lynn Hall: What is the value of an act of kindness?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 13, 2018

What is the value of an act of kindness? Does it cost the individual performing the act anything? Does it make them seem foolish? Ignorant? Weak?

While I have my own opinion, I’m certainly not an expert, and, therefore, decided to see what an expert might say.

Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, assigned students to do five random acts of kindness per week for six weeks. At the end of that time, the students found themselves significantly happier. Being kind had “a profoundly positive effect on happiness,” according to the results of her study.

I also decided to look at what other people had to say about kindness.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

Author and humorist Mark Twain wrote, ‘Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Theologian, writer, humanitarian and physician Albert Schweitzer said, “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.”

The late Princess Diana said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”

Aviation pioneer and author Amelia Earhart said, “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

Novelist and playwright James M. Barrie, wrote, “Always be a little kinder than necessary.

Psychiatrist and author Theodore Isaac Rubin wrote, “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of that is the beginning of wisdom.”

Aesop wrote, “The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however, small, is ever wasted,” and Sophocles wrote, “One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.”

The Apostle Paul in Romans, Chapter 12, verses 9-18 wrote: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” I would interpret that to suggest kindness.

Not too long ago, people began to wear WWJD bracelets. I believe the idea was to stop before acting and asking oneself, “What would Jesus do?” According to Matthew 7:12, Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” A little further research indicated that what Jesus was doing was condensing the entire Old Testament into a single principle taken from Leviticus 19:18:  “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”

John McCain was truly a hero. He served his country in the military, was a prisoner of war for five years, suffering lasting injuries, and went on to public service as a U.S senator. I certainly didn’t always agree with his politics, but differences of opinions are supposedly welcomed and healthy in a democracy. He was admired “across the aisle” as described by those in politics who talk in terms of Republicans vs. Democrats.

Which brings me to my struggles to understand why it’s OK to berate football players as unpatriotic when they choose to take a knee in silent protest over racial inequalities during the playing of the national anthem, but perfectly all right to refuse to lower a flag to half-staff for a respectable amount of time for a man who was unquestionably an American patriot and military hero.