Sunday, September 14, 2014

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” —Bob Kerrey

Educators, for so many reasons, are the guardians and curators of society. Children around the world learn acceptable behavior along with the meaning of the words "appropriate" and "not appropriate" in school.  For those who have not been taught manners at home, the cafeteria and classroom both serve as learning labs.  Teachers want to bring out the best in every child, which is why school classrooms are also headquarters for various charitable functions. Teaching knowledge by itself is not enough; we want to teach children caring, compassion, and kindness.

I was witness to an extraordinary moment this past week which I would like to share with you. This act was so pure and so unselfish that I have been thinking about it since I saw it.  

I was with the NA golf team at a teaching event at a local driving range.  Many golf professionals were assisting the 100 or so players from various school districts with their swings, driving, putting strokes, chip shots, and long iron shots. The camaraderie between the students was evident, and everyone was enjoying the lessons.  At the conclusion of the teaching sections, three contests were held:  long drive, chip shot, and putting.  The NA players won the first two contests hands down, but the putting contest was what caught my attention.

The putting green was located above ground level, and to get to the green, a person would have to climb a set of rock steps.  I saw a slightly built young man with some physical disabilities looking at the steps.  I noticed that his knees were locked, and his hands were at right angles to his wrists.  His coach had chosen him to represent their school in the putting contest, but first he had to get up the steps, which was obviously an impossibility for him.  I saw another young man, also with a slight build, approach him.  The two exchanged a few brief words, and then the second boy picked up the boy with locked knees and carried him up the steps!  No fanfare, no fireworks, just simple kindness and compassion between two friends. The coach told me this is the norm for these two friends; when the young man with the physical disability needs help to get down or up a hill on the golf course, his friend picks him up and carries him.  I am not embarrassed to tell you that I wept at this generosity of heart and brawn. Sometimes, a moment is just so perfect that you have to marvel at its perfection.  Such was this moment.  

The boy did not win the putting contest, although he gave a good run at it. His friend dutifully carried him back down the steps and the two looked so happy to be sharing that particular experience. They touched my heart forever.

As teachers and coaches, we hope to be able to teach kindness and caring, and we must always remember that we are the role models for young people. Children will become who we are. I believe that anyone who saw these two young men learned a wonderful lesson that day, and I hope they will take that lesson to heart, and pay the kindness forward.  

As always, I welcome your ideas, comments, or suggestions.  Have a great week, and be kind to someone.  It feels great.  

Rittman Publishing, LLC

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