Do you think you are a kind person?
I suspected as much. I think I'm a kind person, too.
Only sometimes I'm not. I regret those times, at least most of the time. And I vow to do better the next time around.
Take this morning, for example. When I got to Grunion Central and headed for the front door, I saw someone covered with a tarp, sleeping on the sidewalk across the street. It was early — just past 6 a.m.
That was my first excuse. For not doing something, I mean. For not being kind. The person was sleeping, and I didn't want to disturb them.
Notice I didn't say he or she. The person's head was covered by the tarp, and I couldn't tell whether it was a man or a woman.
For that matter, I couldn't tell whether they were alive. That was my next excuse for not being kind, or at least for not checking on their welfare. I sure didn't want to get involved in a drama with a dead body.
Of course by the time I felt guilty enough to go back out and check, the tarp and the person were both gone.
Does this episode make me a not-kind person? I hope not. But I do think it will cause me to pause the next time I'm in that situation, and hopefully I'll act.
Sorry for the depressing scenario. This started out as an ode to kindness, and I'd like to get back to that.
Hopefully, you have discovered our Kindness publication in this Grunion. It's the first time we've tried something like this.
It was publisher Simon Grieve's idea. I certainly couldn't argue with his rationale for shining a spotlight on people doing good deeds out of the kindness of their hearts:
"We're so hyper-focused on all the negative divisiveness going on today, it's easy to forget people are being kind to each other all the time. We should remind ourselves of that."
It didn't hurt any that we would be publishing Kindness three weeks before Long Beach's first-ever Giving Day. Technically, it's called Long Beach Gives: 24 Hours To Make A Difference, and it's all about marshaling the significant kindness found in Long Beach to help nonprofits that are, in turn, doing kind things for the community.
I argue that, per capita, Long Beach is the most giving community around. We might not have the Eli Broads, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, but we do have literally thousands of people ready and willing to give a helping hand. That hand might be money, but it also can be time, and that's where the most inspiring stories can be found, at least for me.
For example, one of the stories in the inaugural Kindness section is about Susan Twaite. Susan is a sometimes homeless person who decided several years ago she wanted to help others. She certainly couldn't do that with money. But she had time, and she had the organizational skills to create Wrap The Kids, a group of her friends trying to make a difference in other people's lives.
Pretty kind, if you ask me.
One of our working definitions of kindness for the project was this: Kindness respects and helps others without waiting for others to help back.
That kindness can come individually, in small groups or as a cog in a much bigger group. It can make a difference in a life by inspiring through the arts or offering shelter and a helping hand.
And, I think, it can come in the form of helping the helpers. Do it with the three Ts of philanthropy — Time, Treasure and Talent. Don't have any treasure? Struggling to discover your talent? Give up a little time. Here's a little secret — that's often how you find your talent.
Another subject of a story in Kindness, Bob Shannon, summed it up nicely.
"It's a good way to live, helping people. l have never felt so fulfilled."