Years ago, I was given one of those Hallmark wooden signs that is nothing more than a painted stick with lettering professing a profound philosophical or romantic message. There are many varieties of these sticks – white ones, green ones, blue ones – block lettered, script, italicized – gold lettering, black lettering, white lettering, etc. Usually they are about two feet long, one inch thick and two or three inches tall. Honestly, it’s not much more complex than the pet rock, though this does take some minor labor and a volume of well-known and/or personal proverbs. Whatever it takes, it works. I have several such wise wooden works.
The one sign I wish to draw attention to is a pale green slice of a machined board, with gold lettering that sits atop my bookcase: IN A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, BE KIND. Kindness is an inexhaustible commodity which we all own and can dispense as we see fit. There is no quota on kindness conveyed. Think about the last kind thing someone did for you and how it made you feel, how it changed your day. Now think about the last time you conveyed an act of kindness and how it made you feel, and how it made your day. It may have been as simple as holding a door open or making a benevolent donation to a charity. Kindness has no measure, it has no dimensions, and no time limits. You can be as kind as you want at any given time of the day.
Kindness is more than a gesture. Our kind gestures are manifestations of our kindness. “God bless you!” when someone sneezes. A cordial “Good Morning” to a complete stranger. Allowing someone else to have the premier parking space you just saw open. Kindness is something that you can always give but should never anticipate receiving. However, the more you give, likely the more you get.
So, as the Class of 2023 goes forth into the world, whether it be from Penns Grove High School, Salem Community College, or Harvard University, may they take the lessons of kindness with them, and spread the message across the land. As a Salem County theme from a few years ago expressed: SCATTER KINDNESS.