when outrageous acts of kindness are the only sure thing

seems time, people. for all of us to pull up our chairs, circle in tight, make room for whoever’s there to your left. seems time, people, for an economic summit of the chair kind.

news everywhere we turn is getting drearier, bleaker, less inclined to offer us the reprieve of sweet dreams in the night. why, as one of the smart newsfolk in my newsroom said just yesterday, “it’s like your arm is getting cut off and you have to figure out how to keep on going.”

that sad statement in reference to the 20 fine souls–some of them legends in chicago journalism, which long has been the stuff of legend, of course–summarily fired, out of the blue, late last week. told to turn in their badges and be gone from the building by 5 the next day. oh, and no more insurance besides.

in times like these it seems to me the only thing that’s going to ensure our survival is the one thing i’ve not heard enough of, though i know, yes i know, it’s happening under the radar.

what we need, people, is to begin thinking outside of the box. we need to search for and exercise random and unspoken acts of pure kindness. we need to be each other’s safety net, when the net that’s out there is pocked full of holes.

this, then, is a call to kindness. to get up off our couches, the ones that sop up our sorrows and the runaway kernels of popcorn besides. we need to immunize each other with booster shots of no-reason-really acts of outrageousness. or even just simple delights.

see someone standing there in the rain at the bus stop? pull over. give ‘em a ride. what, you think you’ll get mugged, there in your leafy small town? and for you who dwell in the big bad cities, well, give ‘em a once-over, use your brain, then pull over as long as you don’t smell trouble.

or, perhaps it’s simply that someone you know is extremely down in the dumps. maybe what you need to do is get in your car, steer over there, right now, and knock on the door. and then, just sit there and listen. or bring over a movie. an A-number-one tear-jerker, and then the two of you can sit there, sobbing and blowing your nose, and by the end, by the time the credits are rolling, you’ll feel, oh, 10 pounds lighter, at least. unless of course you brought along milk duds and you look down and see that the box is, hmm, somehow all empty. oh, well.

far as i can tell, we need to start this stimulus right here at the kitchen table. we need to be bold. we need to be daring. we need, most of all, to remember that we too can be the solution. or at least a little smidge of it.

know someone out of a job?

know anyone who might maybe be able to in some way employ that someone? well, then: ask. write a letter. put in a good word. and, heck, maybe a plea. while you’re at it, go back to the someone and remind him or her just how splendid they are. trust me, they’re not feeling so splendid these days.

maybe that out-of-work someone, or anyone else, could use a big fat care package. tucked full of things you sure wouldn’t buy if you were counting out your very last nickels and dimes. i’d put in bubble bath. for certain. and maybe a long skinny vanilla bean. because who doesn’t feel a whole lot better inhaling the tropical pod? i might toss in a sleeve of saltines, because around here lately they’ve been curing all sorts of ails. campbell’s soup, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad idea either. chicken noodle’s great for the slurps, and tomato is known to calm a bad tummy.

what i’m thinking–and remember i’m no engineer, haven’t a clue really what makes a car pull out of the alley–is that it’s all about momentum. we rev up the engine, do our one little random act of pure goodness, next thing we know there’s combustion.

my good thing inspires your good thing. my one thing leads to two things. suddenly, we take off the ground. we’re humming here. good things are flying like rockets.

before long, we expect that that’s the way the world works.

i know, i know. i’m still basically a cock-eyed optimist. thinking, like glinda the goodwitch, all it takes is the shake of a stick, and poof, frogs turn to princes.

well, maybe not quite.

but what’s the choice, people? we sit here wringing our hands, rubbing raw our knuckles with worry. we pace in circles. breathe so rapidly and shallowly we all start falling down on the ground, in sad little heaps?

or, we begin here a catalogue of kindness.

beware, it might be contagious, and it could spread without warning.

so, sign up below. fling forth ideas. each and every one is free for the taking. if you try one out, and it works, report back.

we’re looking to start a revolution here. be not afraid. timid, be not.

get goin’ people, think outa the box. think kindness. and don’t shy away from outrageous.

it’s the only sure thing.

this is a democratic society here. vote once, vote often. the more we catalog, the more chance of getting this off the ground and taking true flight.
your ideas, stories, dispatches…sign in below.