dukesmotorcycleNever miss a chance to say a kind word. This thought has been expressed in many different ways by many famous people but it seems that the world is badly in need of being reminded that being kind does not indicate weakness.

Several years ago, I was invited to the fortieth reunion of a high school class in Burlington, New Jersey where I had my first teaching position. About halfway through the evening, a gentleman approached me. Of course, I didn’t recognize him and quickly glanced down at his name tag which had a high school photo attached. I still did not remember him. He proceeded to relate a story about a bullying incident in which he was the victim. I guess I allowed him to come into the school early to my homeroom so he didn’t have to face the harassment before school began. I don’t remember it at all. Amazingly, he did, after forty years. Here’s what he said.

“You were nice to me,” he said simply. “I appreciated it then and still do.”

No one ever knows the potential good that comes from a kind word or a kind deed. Wouldn’t it be nice if occasionally our politicians and other leaders could be kind, or, at the very least, be civil to one another, despite philosophical disagreements? To me, being civil is more a sign of strength than bulldozing people into submission through insults, name-calling, and hate-mongering. Respect for one’s position on issues disappears in the face of this sort of irrationality. At least, my respect does.