—-Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist)
Last week, when the temperature here hovered in the thirties, and South Floridians had to figure out how to use the heat option on their air conditioners, I had to crawl out from under my blanket and use the bathroom. When I came back to bed I found Arthur on my side trying to keep it warm for me. I thanked him and laughingly remarked that that was what made a good husband. After some thought I realized I was closer to the mark than one might think.
We have been together for more years than not, and he is still the person who makes me smile when he walks into a room...and yes Erin, my heart still beats faster when I hear his key in the lock. Through the years people have asked me how we make it work during a time when the divorce rate exceeds fifty percent. The answer lies in Arthur staying awake to keep my side warm and me thanking him.
It has always come naturally to both of us to do the little things that make life easier for the other person, and it has come equally natural to show appreciation after each act of kindness. These are the little things that are missing in society today. People don’t take the time to hold the door open for the person walking behind, and when someone does show this act of kindness, the recipient rarely acknowledges it.
I notice that various newspapers and online sites are now relating stories of everyday kindnesses as though the people who commit these acts are heroes. Since when is it heroic to offer a hungry man a sandwich or to leave a nice tip for a server. It seems to me that we should all be trying to do these acts of kindness every day.
The midterm exam for my speech/debate class several years ago centered around random acts of kindness. Each student had to commit an unexpected kindness for someone and then present a speech about it. I was amazed at some of the wonderful choices these high schoolers made, and almost every student admitted to really liking the assignment. As I explained to them, doing good deeds is as rewarding for the doer as it is for the recipient.
I truly believe that the seeds to grow all of these acts of kindness and the appreciation for such acts are sewn at home. If our children see us being kind and polite to one another, and kind and polite to them, then they will naturally learn to act in the same manner. With all of the tension that we face from natural disasters and despotic leaders throughout the world, wouldn’t it be nice if we could could count on our family and those who surround us to treat us with kindness and respect? In return we can display the gratitude that those acts deserve, while we show the same kindness to them. If Lucius Annaeus Seneca, who was born in 4 BC, could understand this simple truth, than surely those of us in the 20th century can live his truth.
Speaking of living one’s truth, A Death in Live Oak by James Grippando will have you searching out a truth that has haunted us for decades. His story, as relevant today as similar ones were through the last half century and more, will make you wonder if justice will ever be equally served. In this case, a white fraternity president is accused of lynching his black counterpart, and attorney Jack Swyteck agrees to represent him. Grippando’s hero will take you with him as he searches north Florida swamps for the truth that will free his client and bring justice for a dead young man.
As always a complete review follows this blog.