Could Kindness Be the Next Pandemic?

Exploring the possibility of a lasting blessing from a tragic year.

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Posted in , Mar 23, 2021

Edward and Gracie

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8)

We have made it through a year of COVID and things are looking brighter at last after some of the hardest times the country has known. My wife Julee just got her first shot of vaccine up here in Massachusetts. I got mine in New York last month. We have a long way to go still, but I can’t argue against this growing sense of hopefulness and gratitude, two pillars of spiritual well-being. 

Yet what do we have to be grateful for? More than half a million dead from the virus, millions of jobs lost and millions in food lines. What did this year mean? What lessons are we meant to take from it? 

The word that keeps washing though my mind is kindness. The kindness of the nurse who gave Julee her shot. Or the one that gave me mine. She spent my 15-minute waiting period telling me how much she missed her job at a drug rehab facility, which was shut down in the pandemic for lack of funding even as the opioid crisis worsened. She said she prayed every day to go back to that work when the pandemic was over. People I barely exchanged a word with in pre-pandemic times I’ve gotten to know better, even at a distance: the clerks at the Quickmart, the drive-thru bank tellers, the man who delivers Gracie’s dog food. We all take time to show care and concern in a way we didn’t before. 

Could this be a lasting blessing of a tragic year? That as a people we have grown more caring, more compassionate, more kind because of our shared suffering? Could kindness be the next pandemic? I have noticed and studies bear out the fact that kindness is indeed exponential. A single good act can beget numerous good acts. Like a virus, kindness can trigger community spread. For the virus, the threshold was five percent. Can it also be true that if just five percent of the population shows intentional kindness to others that it too could become a contagion? A way for us to more forward? To find unity and become more spiritually fit?  

Something good must come of this year…tender hearts and humble minds, I pray, what Peter tells us. A year ago this week we shut the Guideposts New York editorial office. We haven’t gone back yet but soon enough we will. And I believe we will be met with a much kinder world where people’s spirits were not broken by the pandemic but strengthened. Where we have learned to treat each other better than we had before. 

I am not blind to the disturbing fissures the pandemic exposed…deplorable animus towards people of Asian descent, politicization of mask-wearing and vaccines, doubts about the pandemic itself. Still, I sense that the good will eclipse the bad. 

Do you think people in your community have become more kind, more loving during this trying year? Please let me know by clicking here. I want to hear your stories.

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