The Importance of Small Acts

Photo by Ty Williams on Unsplash

It's funny how one can
be scrolling down their Facebook feed and a single post jumps out in a significant way.  Such is the case with the post below.  

I was on my iPad chatting with a friend while doing some social media, when I saw the post shared below and commented.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to share it on my own page.  Unfortunately, by the time I was at my desktop computer, I could no longer remember who shared the post. Then a few hours later it popped up again when someone else commented on it. I quickly searched the original poster's name - John Perricone - so I could share his words from his page.  It is such a powerful piece. 

Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash
"Several years ago I invited a Buddhist monk to speak to my Senior elective class, and quite interestingly, as he entered the room, he didn't say a word (that caught everyone's attention). He just walked to the board and wrote this: "EVERYONE WANTS TO SAVE THE WORLD, BUT NO ONE WANTS TO HELP MOM DO THE DISHES." We all laughed. But then he went on to say this to my students:

'Statistically, it's highly unlikely that any of you will ever have the opportunity to run into a burning orphanage and rescue an infant. But, in the smallest gesture of kindness -- a warm smile, holding the door for the person behind you, shoveling the driveway of the elderly person next door -- you have committed an act of immeasurable profundity, because to each of us, our life is our universe.'

This is my hope for you for the New Year -- that by your smallest acts of kindness, you will save an other's world."

I honestly had to read it twice, taking time in between and after reading to let it sink in.  I don't know about you, but I often find myself intimidated by about the profound acts of good some perform. Then there are those chosen for awards for their outstanding service. What they do and achieve is incredible, but reading about it can make the rest of us feel very small in comparison.

Over the last two years I have been contemplating what I actually feel called to do? I did take on a project knitting over 50 hats during the first year of the pandemic, with half sold and the money donated to supporting two families at Christmas, and the other half given to an organization that handed them out to those in need. It felt good. But it's hard to commit that amount of time yearly. Another time I bought a bunch of fleece and cut them into blankets to donate to the Get Warm Project.

Photo by Ditto Bowo on Unsplash

Other times I have stepped in behind the scenes to help in some way, and in the end that feels the best to me. I don't want to be on a pedestal held up to public scrutiny; and I don't feel the need for public acclaim to want to help others. Anonymous small acts done behind the scenes give me enormous satisfaction. They offer a different kind of blessing. And you end up feeling like someone's secret fairy godmother.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
I also feel while it's great to step out and address bigger needs publicly, this should never be done in place of the small acts of kindness you have the opportunity to do every day.  I have held a door open often, dropped something off that someone needed, given up my seat on the bus, donated to charities, cooked a meal and sent the leftovers home with them, made time to listen to someone who needed to talk, checked up on a friend, given a hug, shared a good cry, offered a ride, called a friend who has become house bound and knit several afghans as gifts.

Like pebbles dropped in a pond, these small acts ripple out to effect others. Each person who receives an act of kindness is not only lifted up, but often go on to offer an act of kindness to someone else. What a wonderful counterpoint to the negativity and division around us - a growing wave of small acts of kindness could built to become
a tsunami of good will lifting others up.

Let's start today.