Sunday, December 30, 2012

Selfless or Selfish...

After recent horrific acts to our fellow mankind there has been a renewed push for random acts of kindness.  The idea is to leave a note and let the recipient know the good deed was in honor of the victims of these terrible events.  Sort of a new play on "Pay it Forward".

Maybe it's my Midwest upbringing but isn't this just being a good person?  Don't get me wrong.  I think it is an amazing opportunity to treat those, with whom we share this earth, with kindness.  But why do we need a tragedy to occur to be reminded to be nice.

I think back to the way we were raised by our parents.  My Dad always shoveled for Mr. McCoy next door.  In the summer we would mow his lawn as an extension of our own.  I would circle the yard at my grandparent's home and continue over into their elderly neighbor's property.  We would help the Hansens and Kleinschmidts across the street.  Even when we were a military family you helped your neighbor. If you had extra you shared.  Bountiful gardens. Successful hunts.  There were no notes left.  You didn't toot your own horn.  You just did it because it was the right thing to do.

This morning we enjoyed a taste of the Midwest with a little snow. Of course with snow comes a date with the shovel. After yesterday's inside activities, I found myself looking forward to some outdoor time (and the exercise). I allowed my shovel to lead me where I needed to be.  No messages left behind. Just the warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and my brain cleared of clutter. 

I'm thankful my husband's youth was filled with similar moments, even though he was in the Pacific Northwest... just one of the things that drew us together - the belief in helping our family and neighbors.
Of course, there is one difference - in the Midwest we are a bit less creative when it comes to snow removal...  

I know our children were raised with our beliefs.  Pay it forward was more than a movie in this family.  And now with their spouses, they have found someone with the same values. They help friends and family with projects even when it means putting their own day's plans on hold.  I hear of them stopping to help strangers on the side of the road, checking on stranded motorists and helping coworkers even when it means they miss a little sleep because things didn't go quite as planned.  I love how they do for others, how they are caring and practical, and how they don't expect anything in return.  I love the fact they don't flaunt their possessions. I love how they are comfortable in their own skin and don't have to share every "don't I look good" moment on social media.  Instead they share with one another. They don't forget their family.  I see these same values in so many of our extended family too.  These are the same ones I know if we called and said "we need you", they would respond. It's not about calling yourself a good Christian, or doing something to be noticed. It's about setting a good example.

I hope they all know how proud I am of each and every one of them. They are all independent, secure individuals who find success in their less-than-public achievements. I love how we stay close - using each other for sounding boards, venting, sharing and philosophizing. I love that our relationship doesn't stop when "out of sight, out of mind".  It doesn't have to be about what we have.  It's about family.  It's about caring and love.  It's about being a good person all the time - not just when someone is looking.

The fresh air and activity got me to thinking...  as wonderful as the random acts of kindness are, to do for others, how about an addition to the original challenge...  let's be nice without being noticed.

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