Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

Words of Wisdom - I Have a Dream

Monday, January 19th, 2009

I Have a Dream Speech

Full text (transcribed from audio)

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. (more…)

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. with family after hearing that he won the Noble Peace Prize.

Two nights ago, I began reading the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. to my girls at bedtime. This is one quote–taken from ‘The Drum Major Instinct’ speech–that stood out to me, especially as we prepare to welcome in our new president, our first African-American president. It is up to all of us to help make the world a better place. We each have unique gifts that we can use to help others in need.  Please consider volunteering with your family and make a real difference in your community. What a great quality to teach our children about–service to others.

“… And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.

You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.

You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.

You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve.

You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve.

You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.

You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Words of Wisdom from Sydney Smith

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

“Resolve to make at least one person happy every day, and then in ten years you may have made three thousand, six hundred and fifty persons happy, or brightened a small town by your contribution to the fund of general enjoyment.”

- Sydney Smith

A Worthwhile New Year’s Resolution

Monday, December 29th, 2008
(Click image to purchase these Lead-Free Crystal Champagne Glasses)

(Click image to purchase these Lead-Free Crystal Champagne Glasses)

I’d been standing in line at the grocery store for what felt like longer than a flight to Thailand. The minute another woman got in line behind me, a clerk appeared at the next register saying, “I can take the next person in line!” (You probably know where this is going, right?) Yes, the woman behind me hopped over to that register faster than I could say “Huh??”, and by the time she pulled out of the parking lot with her groceries, I was still waiting in my line, and a line had now formed at the other register as well. When I was finally greeted by the clerk’s “Find everything you need today?” I was imagining that woman already at home knitting in front of the fire. Arrgh.

Whenever I get together with friends these days, our conversation generally includes at least one horror story about a recent brush with rudeness, and I’m not talking about misplaced salad forks. Of course, compared to the growing risk of a human flu pandemic, a national etiquette crisis may seem like pretty small stuff, but I’m obviously not alone in my concern. I read in the “U.S. News & World Report” that nine out of ten Americans think that rudeness is not only a serious problem that’s getting worse, but it is also creating more opportunities for violence. (more…)

Receiving an “A” in Kindness

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

I know a man, Jim, who’s a 4th grade teacher. At the end of the school year last June, he casually mentioned to a group of friends some things that have stayed in my mind and heart over these last months. He was talking about the requisite achievement tests, assessments, reports to the district, reports to the parents and the paperwork that are all part of the end-of-the-year procedures expected of teachers. He had just completed all of these reports and wanted us to know something.

Now, I’ve heard Jim talk about his class on a number of occasions. His eyes veritably twinkle as he tells how, in September, the kids are sort of - kids. And then by June, they are taller, more confident, more not so kid-like. His love for his calling, as well as for his charges, simply shines through. Every time I hear him mention his class, I’m struck with how I hope that every single one of his students’ parents understands how fortunate they are to have him in their lives.

On this particular day, he felt compelled to share with someone something that no commentary, no assessment, no form that he has to complete ever, ever asks for. Because he thought it was something important enough for someone to know, he wanted to report to us, friends sitting around, that the end of this school year, as so many others, found his students kinder, gentler and softer to each other than they had been at the beginning of the school year, and that, from his vantage point, it appeared that their souls seemed to be in pretty good shape. (more…)

The Power of a Smile

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

On a recent business trip to New York, it was very cold, the wind was blowing, my feet hurt from the previous 8 hours spent walking the trade show floor, and I was starving. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best of moods and wanted nothing more than to go back to my hotel room and crawl under the covers. Unfortunately, I still had a business dinner to get through that evening.

So there I was, walking in the snow and wind, feeling very sorry for myself, and knowing my misery wasn’t going to end anytime soon. I came to a corner where I had to stop to wait for the light. A little boy of about six was standing there, holding his mother’s hand. Suddenly, for no reason, this child looked up and gave me the biggest, brightest, sweetest smile ever. His whole face just glowed in my direction. My rotten mood evaporated — poof! — just like that! With one brilliant smile, that little boy turned my day around.

I have thought about that incident many times since that trip — how the actions of a complete stranger had such a profound effect on me. When I look back on it, I can’t help but think about what effect I may have on the people I come into contact with on any given day.

The holidays are stressful times for so many — people who don’t have any family close by, people who have suffered the recent loss of a loved one, people who have lost a job at the worst possible time, or people who are just piling too much on their plates (as I was that cold New York day). This holiday season, remember this story of the difference a little boy made as you go about your day. Make your smiles brighter, say a kind word, offer to help if you can sense it is needed, and leave a positive impression wherever you can. One small gesture could end up being the best gift you have ever given.