Kindness

The following from Jim Denison encapsulates so much of what I believe and about which I have been writing, that I am including portions of it.

Tom Hanks “is just as nice as you think he is” 

The more that violence fills the news, the more we need examples to give us hope. That’s why Tom Hanks is such an important model for our culture.

Hanks’ movies have grossed nearly $10 billion worldwide. His portrayal of Fred Rogers will be at least his seventy-first film.

But Hanks is known at least as much for who he is in real life as for who he is on the movie screen. His powerful recent interview with the New York Times is subtitled: “Hanks is playing Mister Rogers in a new movie and is just as nice as you think he is.”

Here are some examples cited by the Times reporter: When Hanks was shooting Angels & Demons in Rome, a bride and her father couldn’t approach the chapel because of the film crew, so Hanks stopped filming and escorted them to the altar. He once bought some boxes of Girl Scout cookies, then offered selfies to passers-by as an enticement to buy. He found a woman’s student ID and used his Twitter feed to get it back to her.

What do college students want most in a mate? 

Time magazine reports that researchers asked 2,700 college students to narrow down the characteristics that were most important to them in a lifetime mate, and one emerged from all cultures: kindness.

Kindness works for churches: Congregations in California are responding to the state’s housing crisis by sharing their parking lots with people who live in cars, providing mobile showers for the homeless, and exploring ways to build affordable apartments on their own land. One minister explained: “This is just one part of how we live out our faith.”

Kindness works for managers: according to Forbes, science now shows that it’s more productive to praise people for their successes than to correct their mistakes.

Kindness even works for popes: Pope Francis hosted 1,500 homeless and needy people for lunch yesterday as the Roman Catholic Church marked its World Day of the Poor. Last week, a mobile clinic was set up in St. Peter’s Square, where volunteer doctors gave free specialist health care to the poor.

Why is kindness so rare? 

Why is kindness newsworthy? One reason is that it is so rare.

The Times reporter tells us that Hanks altered his schedule for their second interview. They were in Santa Fe, with an elevation of 7,200 feet, and the reporter had gone to an urgent care center for oxygen that morning.

So Hanks changed his plans for the day and met her ahead of their appointment so she could leave town earlier. She contrasts his graciousness with numerous other celebrities she has interviewed who were noteworthy for their rudeness.

A secular culture that defines our success by prosperity doesn’t leave much margin for helping others find prosperity at our expense.

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