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BFTP: Making kindness my goal

My friend Gary Hartzell once passed along this wonderful link: George Saunders’s "Advice to Graduates" (NYTimes Magazine, July 31, 2013). I hope everyone else in the world reads this very funny, but very touching and very profound granduation speech. In it, Saunders writes:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.

...kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well, everything.

Read the whole thing. It will take you less than five minutes and you will thank me for asking you to do so.

I often spend time in school buildings, walking about, checking to see if teachers and other staff members are having any problems or have any questions about technology. I am actually able once in a while to fix a tech problem - hooking up a phone, showing some tricks in GoogleApps, setting up e-mail in a teacher's new smartphone, connecting a Chromebook to a Chromecast. Pretty good for me. And most people are happy, friendly, and excited about the work they do.

But then there are the few. Those who are still angry we moved from Office to GoogleDocs (four years ago!) Those whose files did not yet get moved from an old computer to new. Those who find a specific application slow. Those simply frustrated or overwhelmed by technology and/or the new pressures and expectations of today's teaching environment.

I takes genuine effort to be kind sometimes. I don't always succeed. But I think about my teachers dealing with kids who are angry, who are frustrated, who feel overwhelmed - and who face challenges and fears greater than most of us can ever imagine.

I don't know if kindness is contagious - that if by experiencing it, one is more likely to pass it along. I hope so. I make kindness my goal each year.  After all, as Aesop reminds us, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

See also: A Secret Weapon: Niceness

Original post August 27, 2013

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for that. Needed the reminder after a rough week.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Thanks, Jim.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Use the time to relax!


November 19, 2018 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I believe we could have an alternative quote...

"Be kind - for everyone you meet is having some technology issue."

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

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