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A secure investment. November 24, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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As we stare over the precipice of the so-called fiscal cliff, our friend Ben is reminded of a marvelous quote from Henry David Thoreau: “Goodness is the only investment which never fails.” (Okay, it should have been “that never fails,” but let’s give Thoreau a break.)

Goodness is a rare and underappreciated quality. My beloved Grandaddy was a good man, and my adored Mama, his daughter, who was incredibly bright, made a point of telling the youthful Ben that my intelligence rated a very low second compared to character and moral principle. “Lots of people are bright, but very few are good or kind,” she told me repeatedly. The lesson sank in.

I can’t say that I grew up to be a good person, but I did grow up to revere goodness above all other qualities. As my Mama pointed out, anybody can be intelligent, even brilliant. But it takes a truly special person to be good. This Thanksgiving weekend, let’s all make a point of celebrating the good people in our lives.


Random acts of kindness. February 17, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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1 comment so far

Silence Dogood here. The expression “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” has always aggravated me, since, in my opinion, beauty is never senseless, but a great gift and cause for rejoicing whenever and wherever it occurs. Cut that part off, though, and “practice random acts of kindness” definitely works for me. 

Admittedly, the “random” part has never really played a role. I make a point of being kind to cashiers, bank tellers, wait staff, store clerks, people around me in line, the elderly, anybody I encounter. I’ve always felt that I lose nothing by being cheerful and nice, and in fact gain a great deal, not just by improving someone else’s day but by enriching my own. Seeing someone’s face transformed by an unexpected, unaccustomed smile is a real gift.

But I do believe entirely in kindness, a truly underrated virtue. So I was thrilled to read in our local paper, the Allentown PA Morning Call, that there is an organization called The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (www.randomactsofkindness.org), and that it recognizes people who have excelled in its Extreme Kindness Challenge, which they hold annually to promote Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 13-19. 

This year, they recognized a 20-year-old girl, who lives in a cramped bedroom in her family home but churns out custom-painted sneakers (more than 150 pairs so far) for kids with long-term illnesses and disabilities; an 84-year-old man who transforms scrap wood into toy trains for kids who can’t afford toys (1,000 so far); and a 53-year-old woman who advises kids in the local high school’s Random Acts of Kindness Club. (You can read all about it at www.themorningcall.com, “Foundation rewards kindness.”) 

Wowie zowie. Nothing like seeing what people can do for others when they really try! Maybe reading the article will inspire you to do something amazing, or pass it along to someone else you think might have that urge for kindness in their hearts.

But I think we can all carry kindness in our hearts and spread it out so people we see casually will get a little, be it an older person you don’t impatiently push in line or on the road, even if they’re crawling, or a harried cashier who could use a little good cheer and patience, or a couple whose frantic behavior in a restaurant is clearly due to the unfortunate fact that their toddlers and baby have clearly driven them to the edge. 

Just for today, be kind. It’s the human thing to do.

               ‘Til next time,


Supermarket samaritans. May 31, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I’ve been noticing a heartwarming trend at my local grocery the past few months: People have been leaving coupons on the shelves with the products they’re good for.

These aren’t expired coupons that some piggish litterers left behind when they saw that they’d waited too long to redeem them. Nor are they coupons that have been inadvertently forgotten. Sometimes, there will be a little stack of them piled neatly in front of the appropriate product.

In these hard times, small gestures like this can make a big difference. I don’t know if I’m seeing the work of a single samaritan or a group, if this just goes on in my grocery or if it’s happening nationwide. But however many of you there are, wherever you are, thank you.

        ‘Til next time,