Today’s youth expect things to be given to them. Their mindset in most cases is that “if I do someone a favor, it will help me gain an advantage or that person will be expected to do something for me down the road.” Our youth are not being taught the power of unconditional generosity – and more specifically, “random acts of kindness.” I had this happen to me yesterday.
I was on a business trip out of town and spent several hours with a company there. You’d think that the first thing I would remember about the trip was the interesting people I met and the exciting outcomes that resulted from the interaction. And you couldn’t be more wrong.
What I remember most emphatically was what happened BEFORE the meetings. I arrived early, and stopped at a nearby coffee shop to get a drink and prepare for the day. Unfortunately, there was not a free parking lot and you had to park on a city street with a parking meter. I was not prepared for that and didn’t have any coins laying around to put in the meter. A driver pulls up and I told him I was going to give him the spot because I was from out of town and didn’t have any change for the meter. Without even hesitating , this guy rips out some coins and offers to give them to me – no questions asked. I thanked him repeatedly for his kind gesture.
When I went into the coffee shop, he comes in behind me, also wanting to get some coffee. I asked him his name (which was “Jerry”) and I offered to buy him coffee and told him that I am not used to folks going out of their way to offer a small gesture of kindness. He said he didn’t even think twice about it, and was happy to help out someone from out of town.
This is what our kids need to learn – being kind disarms others and makes them more willing to listen, to befriend, and to love. In the words of Charlie Chaplin:
“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.”
Jerry, I know you don’t want anything in return, but when you visit Atlanta, look me up.