I get to do a lot of people watching on my daily commute as a dedicated bus or T rider, and there is a phenomenon that never fails to pique my curiosity. I have seen long streams of people wordlessly exit a train or bus, looking down or ahead, convinced that their day is so important that they can’t stop and say thank you.

However, if one person stops to say “thanks” or “have a good day”, it is rare to see the people following that trendsetter continue without always saying thank you. That single act sparks the gratitude, even if only verbal, of those who follow him or her.

I’ll admit, the bombings of Monday were a far more violent spark than anyone should ever need to inspire gratitude and kindness. But even as they created senseless sadness, they worked to create a simultaneous sense of community. The spirit of kindness and togetherness that exists in Boston right now, affirmed by similar kindness of those around the world, has made me happier than ever to live here.

grace tragedy best patrick
One of my favorite moments of Gov. Deval Patrick’s speech during today’s “Heal the City” interfaith service.

But as we know from earlier tragedies that have occurred previously, that instinct to protect and to care starts to fade after a while. The news cycle shifts to similar sadness occurring elsewhere (and our kindness and support is needed in West Texas now, so please don’t be afraid to turn your attention there as well), the shock and horror starts to wear off, and we return to our normal- if brusque and at times antisocial- ways. Does it have to be this way? I was pondering that question this morning when I came upon the following Tweet from briana Sevigny:

briana tweet
What would this version of Boston look like?

What if we didn’t let this spirit fade? Could we commit to being this kind to one another every single day, no matter haw far the tragedies of Monday get from our rearview mirror? I am reminded of the overwhelming power of the 26 Acts movement in the wake of the Newtown shootings. Yes, there are sporadic reports of people completing one of their 26 acts, but most of those have subsided as the world continued to spin and new challenges or frustrations entered our lives. I want to challenge those around me to do one better.

Keep the kindness going.

Whether you’ve seen it on the news or not, people all around you are suffering. They are suffering to varying degrees and about varying issues. What’s more, you might be suffering. You may be carrying something heavier than you’d like. But being kind, especially when it’s hard, lifts you up AND those around you. Boston is a beautiful place when we take care of one another. The world as a whole is a beautiful place when we take care of one another. And while we may fail at times, snapping at those around us or forgetting how we can hurt each other, let’s stay awake to what kindness can do. Don’t live in such a way that only a bomb can shake the impulse to care into you. Be that spark for kindness yourself.

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