A Glimmer of Goodness

Simple, quick and meaningful gestures of goodwill toward others

Posted in , Aug 31, 2017

The goodness of people

“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people,” read a sidewalk placard outside a local bookstore I visited last week. Simple, really. Right? Smile sincerely at others; ask how they are. Hold a door for another. Let a car go before you. Send a card to someone in need or not in need, even. Pick up stray newspaper pages on the sidewalk. Invite someone for dinner. Cut or buy some flowers for a neighbor. Volunteer. Or simply offer your company to someone in need. Some of these acts take more time than others, but the gesture can have long-acting effects.

A few months ago, I received a voicemail message from dear high school friend. She and I do not see each other much but deeply value our friendship. Her message was simple and pure. She had just returned from church and had thought about me and our friendship during the service and simply wanted to let me know. Done. What more did I need that day, but to feel her goodness? Her gesture encouraged me to step away from my routine, my to-do list, to do for another.

Certainly, in our daily lives, we all encounter those who make us question the goodness of people. Like when a customer four people ahead of me in line dropped her wallet, papers and change spilling onto the floor. Not one person near her bent down to help her. A quick glance at what had fallen at her feet, and they went right back to their smartphones.

Or the evening in June when I was helping my 8-year-old son onto a New York City subway, and a woman, in a rush, pushed him and me, causing one of his legs to slip between the subway car and the platform. She then yelled at me for being in the way and not moving fast enough.

Or when someone leaves a shopping cart in the middle of a parking spot at the grocery store. Not helpful. Not thoughtful. It is scenarios like the above that make me uneasy, wondering about some people’s single-minded thinking. It’s about me, what suits me, why extend beyond myself. This is concerning, in spades, in my opinion.

This is not to say we need to do for others at every turn. It is just that it can be simple, quick and meaningful to offer even a glimmer of goodness whenever possible. Why not give an opportunity for someone in your world to believe in the goodness of people?

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