Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cookies and Milk

I was listening to an inspirational speaker recently that spoke a great deal of the realm of spiritual principles. Spiritual being those ideals or beliefs that connect one to that which is holy, sacred, or divine to a person or group of persons. Principles being those matters in life that are important, central, essential or valuable to that same individual or faction of individuals. At least, this is the way I have come to understand the words making up the term "spiritual principle."

Any number of things can become important in life. Certainly the avenue one travels to earn a living to sustain life is a matter of great import. After that, much is left to the idiosyncratic in us all. This man I listened to felt strongly that a most important ideal was the spiritual principle of being nice. Not an easy feat to accomplish. The world today offers many opportunities for numerous levels of action and interaction. I see that all of it can be done with kindness.

What does it cost to practice this "matter of importance?" Nothing but a simple choice, and a hard choice at that...if the evidence before us is to be accepted. We spend every day in a world bereft of examples sufficient enough to allow the good feeling of kindness. It is a learned behavior. As children we are taught to be polite and nice. We then move out into the world and encounter that which is negative. Since my entrance into society, some fifty-plus years, I have seen atrocity, crime, murder, violence, and cruelty near everyday I maintain, or attempt to maintain vim and vigor. I have grown jaded and disappointed with the world. I want things to be the way they were when I attended kindergarten. Back then, life seemed easy. You said "yes sir", and held doors for ladies, and if you did these and a few other simple practices they gave you milk and cookies and let you take a nap in the afternoon. Life should be like milk and cookies. I know few people who do not like milk and cookies. Those who don't need to be given whatever it is they like. As long, that is, as it is not harmful to them or others.

It comes to me that kindness is the most simple of practices. I wish I did it more. It takes no inspiration and not much effort if your heart is in the right place. I left work yesterday and passed a young man walking down a highway with a gas can in his hand. I believe in the power of random acts of kindness and, as such, stopped and brought him to a gas station. Upon arrival back at his vehicle it would not start. The man had thanked me when he got in my car, telling me that both a police county constable and a state trooper had passed him without stopping. Now that he had no working vehicle, the constable showed up. As I sat waiting to see if the car would start the constable questioned me extensively. Only after explain that I was a school teacher and thus a "Decent" citizen did he leave me alone. He warned me of the danger of picking up strangers on the side of the road. I wondered when things got this way. I simply tried to be nice, and now I had come under suspicion for being kind. I waited until the constable warned the kid of leaving the car on the side of the road, and being a burden to the public. I then took the kid's mother down the road to get some help from her husband. She thanked me for going out of my way, and tried to pay me. I thought of the constable who actually was getting paid to help people and declined the remuneration.

I worried over the incident all the way back to town. I decided that the best thing I could do, if it happened again, was say "Yes sir" to whatever cop who thought threatening a downed motorist was the best way to help, and hold the door for the lady that actually needed the help. Then go home and give myself some cookies and milk...

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