Low Tech Kindness

There’s a big problem that we need to talk about.

About how we’re more connected and “social” than ever before, how the world is now smaller, flatter, more pizza pie than tilted marble.

But we’re still lonely, maybe even more depressed.

How can this be?

Be A Pal

I recently heard a story about a guy who ran the Boston marathon but, in the dreadful heat, he couldn’t finish it. He fainted in the last quarter mile. Awakened by the EMTs, he just wanted to go home, but they wouldn’t let him until he was medically cleared. Eventually, mercifully, one empathetic EMT took the guy by the arm and offered to walk him home. The runner was relieved, finally this day could end with a nice bath, warm meal, and a good night’s sleep. But the EMT had a change of heart:

“You know what? You’re finishing this race.”

The EMT guided the runner with one arm and with the other roused the crowd to applause. As the runner kept his legs going towards the finish line, he was soon overcome with tears, with emotion. But they weren’t from sadness. They were because of joy. Why?

“It was the nicest thing someone has done for me in a long time.”

“It was the nicest thing someone has done for me in a long time.”

The Cure for Loneliness is Kindness

A few months ago, I called a stranger. I never do this. But I did it because I noticed something about his business, something that didn’t look right to me, and I wanted him to know in case he himself didn’t know.

I found his number online and just on a whim, just on a “I’d want to know if this was me” hunch I called and left the pertinent information, but didn’t leave a number, on his voicemail.

He called back in minutes (Caller ID, it’s the newest thing), thanking me for the out-of-the-blue message. The kicker was, he said:

“This is the nicest thing someone has done for me in a long time.”

What was for me just a minute out of my day, and without effort, was for him so much more. It struck him so profoundly that he promised to repay me in some way, down the line, and I could only reply that his appreciation was all the reward, all the medicine, I needed. Because it was.

Nice Guys AND GALS Win

We need to be kinder.

I need to be kinder.

You need to be kinder.

We have lost our lovingkindness.

When was the last time someone was nice to you?

Can you name the last time you said, “This is the nicest thing anyone has done for me…”

Can you remember when someone could say that about what you did for them? What did you do to make them say that? How did it make them feel? How did it make you feel?

It isn’t just about helping people, which is a timelessly great way to connect with others. It’s about feeding your soul. Reinforcing, strengthening, that which is humane in our humanity.

The true caution in our technological advancement is not in the rise of artificially intelligent, automated, “they-took-our-jobs!” machines, but in the degradation, the automation, of what it means to be a human being.

Let’s remember the value, the infinite currency, not of Bitcoin, but of a heartfelt hug, a genuine kiss, an encouraging word, an unsolicited favor, or another act of grace. Let’s keep that technology. It doesn’t need an upgrade.

It’s showing analog love in a digital world.

And the nicest thing you can do for me is to do something kind for a friend, foe or someone in between, without expectation of anything other than a desire to be a decent, a better, person.

Love and lead, sure. But love first. Always remember the order.

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