Road to justice
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Certain Acts of Goodness
What George H.W. Bush Taught Us About Kindness
The passing of an American president is always big news, so I wasn’t surprised to see every publication in the
country running obituaries and tributes to George H.W.
Bush. While no two pieces were alike in their assessment of the 41st president, one of Bush’s aims for our country came up time and again. It’s a message that I think resonates more urgently now than it did back in 1988, and a great thing to consider as you begin your year. After accepting the Republican nomination for president on Aug. 18, 1988, Bush took the podium to address the convention.“Where is it written that we must act as if we do not care, as if we are not moved?” he asked, wondering why Americans valued tough talk over genuine emotion.“Well, I am moved,” he continued.“I want a kinder and gentler nation.” He would reaffirm that desire during his inaugural address, when he defined our purpose as Americans.“It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world,” he said. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, we can all agree that treating each other with kindness should be part of the American character. It may sound self-evident and obvious, but it’s something we seem to have lost in recent years. Turn on the TV, and it won’t be long before you encounter bile and anger. The same goes for the internet. Now, I don’t want to condemn technology for making us colder, but I do wonder what has led to the decline of kindness in our society. Some of it, I believe, is down to just how busy we all are. Americans’ lives are more hectic than ever before. When you’re scrambling and overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget to show your appreciation to the person who made your coffee or bagged your groceries. But these little gestures make a big difference. As somebody who grew up working in supermarkets, I can tell you firsthand that a customer saying thank you always made my day brighter. That’s true for everyone. Nobody likes to feel invisible or unappreciated. We don’t always mean to make people feel this way, but nevertheless, we do.
to offer the hottest take on it. All you have to do is flip on a sports talk radio station for one minute or look at the comments section of news websites to know what I’m talking about. In the race to be the loudest and most forceful, we forget that kindness and gratitude are more valuable than bluster and anger. And, honestly, it’s up to us to reverse this trend before our discourse becomes a never-ending shouting match.
That’s why I think it’s so important to keep Bush’s famous words in mind as we kick off 2019. Ask yourself how you can be kinder and gentler to those around you this year. I promise you won’t regret it. If everyone reading this resolves to focus on kindness, we’ll be many steps closer to creating the nation that George H.W. Bush envisioned. –Jim Snell
Another issue is that our culture seems to value volume over nuance and intensity over warmth. Whenever a noteworthy event happens, people race
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