My COVID rock garden - all gifted.
I haven’t done a movie review for a while. If you’re not into movies (the horror!), skip this section. For those who remember these two critics, I haven’t decided whether I’m Siskel or Ebert. Maybe, I’m both Siskel and Ebert. In any event, I’m only going to tell you about movies I love.
Today’s super-mini-review is “13th” (directed by Ava DuVernay, available on Netflix and free on YouTube). It’s about our criminal justice system (or injustice system as the case may be), especially as it relates to Black Americans. It’s devastating. It’ll make you furious. And it’s a necessary watch to fill in the gaps of things-some-of-us-would-rather-not-think-about. You may need to watch it in 30- to 45-minute sections to take it all in. It gets an unreserved “A.”
Now…on to kindness. Did you know that you can hold both righteous anger (see the movie review above) and kindness in your little old body? It’s true. On Sunday, I ran across an article in the science section (of all places) – “Being Kind Pays Off, Researchers Find.”
According to research, we are hard-wired to be nice. Of course, back in the day, my teen-age daughter would have begged to differ. Yeah, I was one of those “mean moms.”
Such good news: Research shows that acts of kindness make us feel better and healthier.
“We prize kindness over any other value. When psychologists lumped values into 10 categories and asked people what was more important, benevolence or kindness, comes out on top, beating hedonism, having an exciting life, creativity, ambition, tradition, security, obedience, seeking social justice and seeking power said University of London psychologist Anat Bardi who studies values systems.”
So, in the midst of a pandemic, how can you be kind?
- Write a note of encouragement. I recently received a handwritten note from my friend Megan. Her reminder that ‘God loves you, no matter what” was just what I needed to hear. Plus, I was thrilled to get a piece of personal mail. When you write a note, you can imagine the delight of the person opening the envelope. It’ll make you feel good.
- Share your bounty. The other day when I was out, I noticed an 11- or 12-year-old boy walking his bike with one hand and holding a jar of flowers in the other. I imagined he was bringing them to his mom. As I kept going, I discovered where he found those flowers. In front of one household were about a dozen small jars of roses, hydrangeas, and daisies with a sidewalk chalk message to “please take.” Maybe you have flowers, or veggies, or blueberries that you can share to delight strangers.
- Make a donation. Your church is still doing ministry…even if the doors are physically closed. Making a donation and saying a prayer for your church or the organization you’re giving to, can lift your spirits as much as it’ll lift the spirits of the recipients. It’s science!
Don’t underestimate the power of kindness. As London School of Economics Labor economist Richard Laynard said, “Doing kindness makes you happier and being happier makes you do kind acts.”
These are hard, hard days we are living in. It’s difficult not to be overwhelmed and angry and depressed. But take time to be kind. It’ll lift your spirits. As a recent prayer in Sojourners’ daily devotion said, “This life will be a struggle, and may we be drunk with Your love in the midst of it.”
Go ahead and go all out: Be drunk on God’s kindness and love.