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Do you believe, as I do, what Anne Frank said in her diary during the dark days her family hid from the Nazis during World War II? She wrote “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

I run into kind-hearted, caring, and thoughtful people every day, from the person who holds the door open at the Dollar Store, to the Meals-on-Wheels deliverer to your front door every day despite the weather, from our neighbor who brings up our garbage cans, to the driver in a long line of traffic that lets us merge in front of her. A while ago I heard the surprise words, “The person before you paid for your coffee,” from the clerk at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru.

When you think about it, we truly cannot count all the acts of kindness toward us.

That generosity pouring from strangers’ hearts should inspire in us a desire to reciprocate, or even initiate, the same actions toward others.

Anne Frank’s father Otto’s trusted Opekta office employees in Amsterdam, the “helpers,” that secretly cared for the Franks while they hid from the Gestapo, could have faced the death penalty if caught. Their shining example demonstrates a commitment to trust and service, and love, that went far beyond any employer-employee relationship.

Like Otto Frank’s employees, it takes courage to extend one’s hand to another. It also takes love and concern for another’s well-being, and a willingness to sacrifice one’s resources, time, or energy. 

Too often we are afraid that when we open our hearts, we will be rejected. If or when we are it may sting, but that hurt, if we want to move forward, should be temporary. Why? Because the mere act of showing kindness, to friend or stranger alike, awakens the bounties and gifts latent in our souls and brings untold benefits to our inner characters.

Consider some of the exhortations on love and kindness from Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha

Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 86.

Think ye at all times of rendering some service to every member of the human race. Pay ye no heed to aversion and rejection, to disdain, hostility, injustice: act ye in the opposite way. Be ye sincerely kind, not in appearance only. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 3.

If others … poison your lives, sweeten their souls … –  Ibid., p. 24.

Should any one of you enter a city, he should become a centre of attraction by reason of his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world …. – Ibid., p. 70. 

Be ye the helpers of every victim of oppression, the patrons of the disadvantaged. – Ibid., p. 3. 

Let him do some good to every person whose path he crosseth, and be of some benefit to him. – Ibid.

In his book The Mission Tony Fahkry wrote:

Can you recall a time somebody was kind to you?

Now change the scenario and think of a time you were kind to another person. Call to mind their reaction and how you responded.

Move into your heart and notice the feelings there.

If you read no further than this point, you should know that kindness affects the user and the experiencer — leaving a lasting impression on both.

Kindness has many benefits including increased happiness and a healthy heart. It slows down the aging process and improves relationships and connections, which also boosts your health. Kindness broadens your life’s frame of reference and serves as a symbol of respect to anyone who receives it. If you want to live a long and happy life, be kind.

These observations run straight to our hearts. Surely we can all remember the feelings of consideration and joy that someone showed us or that we showed them. We now know that these kinds of action benefit our physical selves, and our spirits. 

In the words of Desmond Tutu, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

So don’t hesitate to be kind. Kindness is the outward sign of internal love – a love that will grow in our hearts and the hearts of others, a love that can change the world. 

As transformational teacher Barbara De Angelis has written, “Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.”  

Love and kindness, and you, can save lives.

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