10 Word Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Goodness. Kindness. Relationship. Warmth. Natural. Hanks. Rhys. Genuine. True. Yes.

52 Thoughts: Second Thought


Photo by TJ Parker

People are good.  Inherently good.  For the most part.

I believe this.  I always have.

We just got done watching the Star Wars films, by the numbers, not in the order in which they were made.  Why do I bring this up?  Because the whole Darth Vader story is that anyone, if they give in to anger, fear, and hatred, can become dark, can become a force for evil, for negative energy.  Conversely, it also teaches us that there is hope, even for people who may be angry and fearful and full of hate.  There is good in us all.  Some of us may have forgotten it or refused to see it, but there is good.

OK, yes, this is corny.  But, it’s true.  Maybe not for the Emporer in Star Wars, who was so evil he could not be moved toward good, but even for Darth, there was hope.  There was a part of him that was good.  I know this is a weird time to bring up a character in a science fiction film, but I believe science fiction is often a good predictor of, and reflection of, where we are going and who we are, or could be.  It’s why I love it.

Many people I know want to look on these as dark times.  I guess, from a certain perspective, they are.   I myself fight against that feeling some days.  Yes, they may be challenging.   Yes, there may be things happening in the world that don’t jive with a personal point of view, and that’s hard.  It may seem dark.  It may even seem like there are evil people out there trying to do evil things.  Some of that is true.  Some of them are indeed the Emporer.  But, I truly believe mostly they are just people who don’t do things the way I or possibly you think they should.  Does this make them evil?  Inherently evil? No.  It can make them scary, for sure.  It can make them seem dark, absolutely, but they aren’t evil.  Most of them anyway.

We need to be open.  To remember to act with empathy. To try and see people for who they are, totally, realizing they’ve come from a place of having their own life experiences, instead of as just for what they’ve said or what they believe about a certain thing.  We need to ask questions, to listen to the answers to those questions even if they differ from what our answers might be.

People are inherently good.  If we start from that place, thinking that way, imagine what we could accomplish.  Imagine a world where people gave each other the benefit of the doubt, instead of just doubting.  If people acted from a place of understanding instead of fear.  From love instead of hate.  Darth might become Anakin all over again.  What a happy twist to the story that could be.


A Good Tip Goes A Long Way

I just got done reading a story on NPR, and then watching the video, about the dying wish of a 30 year old. With a request in his will this young man has changed the world. A simple thing has turned into something magical and meaningful, giving hope and the knowledge that good things can and do happen sometimes.

I encourage you to read the story yourselves, but for the purposes of recapping I’ll say this, he willed that his brother/family give someone a $500 tip. That was it. Simple. He just wanted them to do something amazing for someone.  They did.

I can connect only a little bit to this story in that one day, when I was in Chicago with my brother, Kevin, we went out to eat at this old restaurant/diner near our hotel, which was near the airport where we would fly out the next day. We walked to this place from our hotel and had a decent dinner. Our waitress, an older woman, wearing one of those old zip up polyester uniforms, was perfect, and we could tell she’d been doing it for years and years.  And maybe all those years had been spent at this same restaurant.  That’s what it seemed like.  Being a great server is a hard thing. It’s a beautiful balance between being attentive and leaving people alone, being chatty without being annoyingly chatty, and knowing when and how to deal with your customers. This woman had all of that, and more. She was sweet and attentive and we liked her a lot, plus she was on it with every aspect of the service she gave us.

Those that know me know I’m a good tipper. I’ve never been a waitress, but I’ve had jobs where I got tips, and I also worked for a catering service for a summer. I know what it’s like to wait on people, to serve them, and it’s not easy. So I tip well if I think the person does a good job. This particular day my brother and I were done eating and I decided to give her a $20 dollar tip. The meal, in total, was probably $30, so it was a decent tip. Nothing like what the young man is doing in the name of his brother, if you read the article I highlighted above or watch the video included with this post, but $20 was a bit more than 20%. It was an amazing thing. For me, I think, as much if not more, than for her. She was taken aback and told me I’d made a mistake. I told her I hadn’t. She expressed a sort of amazed and shocked thank you. I knew in that moment her day had been made slightly brighter. I know her reaction meant mine had as well. It was a small thing to do, but isn’t that the point. Good things, good surprises, can and do happen.  And those good things can be a small token of goodwill, a small gesture, a simple act of kindness.

When I was a kid my brother and I used to walk to the little grocery store in our tiny town.  One day we were in there looking for a soda and found a bottle of seven up that had a cap on it, but nothing in the bottle.  We took it up to the check out to give to the clerk and he thought we were turning it in for the deposit.  When he tried to give us the money we said no, we didn’t want the deposit, we just wanted to give it to him as it was back there like it was for sale and there was no soda in it.  He looked at us for a minute and then said something about us being honest and good and that deserved a thank you and a reward.  He gave us ice cream bars for being such responsible kids.  We were shocked. We were just doing what we thought was the right thing, what we’d been lucky enough to be taught to do.  Turns out doing that can get you not only a free ice cream, but also a great feeling of self respect and pride.  It was a great lesson for me as a youngster.  A lesson about not only doing the right thing, but that in doing the right thing you get a great sense of pride and also a sense of community from it.

Awhile back Liberty Mutual had these series of commercials about responsibility.  Remember those spots?  I loved them.  People doing random, small, nice things for each other, someone sees them doing it and then does something themselves for someone else, and on and on.  It’s the same idea as giving a decent tip really.  It’s putting goodness out into the world.  It’s giving people hope and happiness and a sense that there are people out there in the world who will do the right thing, will do a good thing.

I’ve written a lot on this blog about this sort of thing.  About people seeing the world from a place of us instead of them, of being positive and helpful and understanding instead of negative and adversarial and judgmental.  I mean those words and feel them when I write them, when I say them aloud.  There is joy and beauty and hope and surprise and togetherness out there for the taking.  It’s a matter of choice and perception.  Choose to give.  Choose to see.  Choose to feel the connections around you.  Choose to act with kindness.  It’s as simple as opening the door for someone or picking up something someone dropped or looking at your adversary as a human being.  And that, my friends, is my tip for today.