Kindness is contagious
“Kindness is choosing to acknowledge and celebrate the beauty in others, regardless of whether or not they can find it in themselves.”
I remember the first time I ever witnessed someone being treated unkindly. I was in the 5th grade at a Catholic school that I attended. I moved around a lot due to traveling for acting so it was always difficult making lasting friendships. I was excited because after a couple months of being in my classroom I felt as if I had finally made some friends. A little over 2 months after I had started a new student who we called Maggie started as well. She was gorgeous, a curtain of ebony hair, rich bronze skin, and doe like brown eyes. I remember her being extremely quiet and reserved but I figured it was because she was just new. I hoped she would come out of her shell like I did. As I was sitting one week with my friends at the lunch table I noticed Maggie eating alone. I suggested that she should come sit with us. I knew how being the new kid was hard and without hesitation I invited her to our table. She remained quiet, idly staring at her food hidden in a container. My friends and I chit chatted about what we did over the weekend but she remained glued to her covered food. I thought it was bizarre how she didn't eat like the rest of us but I didn't think very much of it at the time.
A couple of days later I found Maggie inside a stall, with her lunch, and she was sitting inside of there eating. I didn't know what to say, I didn't want to ease drop or be rude but I had to ask if she was okay. I can't describe the emotion in her eyes as she showed her exotic food, saying that she didn't want to eat in front of people anymore because they would make fun of the way it smelled and looked. To me the food looked normal, possibly because I was introduced to ethnic foods from my parents. They were adamant with trying new exotic flavors and cuisines. My heart broke when she said that some of my fellow peers referred to her food as pig scraps. What could I say? How could I apologize and undo the damage that had already been implanted in her brain? All I could say is that I was sorry and offered our table once more. She didn't come back to our table, sadly, the scar of teasing had cast a mold over her heart.
A week after that I remember Maggie coming to school in a baggy hoodie over her uniform. Something looked different about her that day. Her long mass of ebony hair was unkempt and pushed up into a bun. There were dark circles underneath her eyes and she just looked so tired. Not physically but emotionally. Every day we would pick a new student to say The Our Father in front of the classroom after we would say the pledge of allegiance. Today was Maggie's turn. I remember the teaching calling her and Maggie staying still in her seat. I remember all the hawk-like eyes blaring at her as she raised her head in the back of the classroom and said "No." The class had a couple of snickers and one student even uttered the annoying "ohhhh". The teacher seemed annoyed and reiterated that she had to say prayer, everyone had to do it. Maggie then explained that she would always stand in respect to the prayer but due to being Muslim she didn't want to state the prayer out loud herself. The teacher wouldn't hear any other word she immediately sent her to the office as the other students laughed out loud and called her weird. Maggie didn't return to our school the next week. I never saw her again. I was so young back then that I didn't fully understand what was occurring around me. All I know is my heart sunk for this girl. I feel so awful even to this day that I didn't say or do more. Even though we didn't have much in common I never wanted to see someone hurt the way that she hurt.
I bring this up because the last couple of months I have seen so things that reminded me of how I felt as that fifth grade student. I've witnessed hurtful acts happening to people. I have seen people been treated unfairly due to the color of their skin. I have also seen people ridiculed for their beliefs. Being a Christian I believe that people should be treated equally, no matter their skin color, their gender, or what they believe in. To me we are all created in God's love and light. Therefore, I have tried to make it my mission to spread kindness and speak up for what I believe is right. I couldn't fully speak up for Maggie back then but I can speak up for others in her place.
There's little things that we can all do to spread kindness. One of the things is educate yourself. If you find someone who is different from you do research on their culture and what makes them unique. Also, it's okay to ask questions. In fact, if you have a friend that is different, hold a conversation with them I am sure they are happy to educate you on their culture and beliefs.
Do a small act of kindness for someone. I was in line at Starbucks a couple of days ago. I was having a really tough day. As I drove up to the window I was surprised that the person in front of me had paid for my drink. It was something so small but it truly made my day. I extended the favor and paid for the person behind me. Hopefully, I made their day too. Now, am I changing the world, or ending climate change? No, but I am starting a small ripple effect of kindness and I hope that it inspires you as well too.
You have suggestions on how to spread kindness? Comment below. Happy Monday love bugs! Remember to be kind and love one another.