AN ACT CONCERNING THE PRACTICE OF KINDNESS AT IRREGULAR INTERVALS
Well, it's been quite a week. Last Sunday there was a fundraiser for my campaign for State Representative. Being a small local race, it was mostly friends from around town that stopped by to offer their support and share some lemonade and cookies. We sat around, talked about what is going on in town, and I gave a stump speech. I was pleased with the results. Some people could afford to give $100, which is the maximum I can accept as part of the Citizen's Election Program. Others, for whom the economic downturn has been more difficult could only afford $5.
A hundred miles away, across Long Island Sound, there was another fundraiser going on. This was the $50,000 a plate fundraiser for Mitt Romney at the mansion of billionaire David Koch. Local, State, and Federal authorities were on hand to protect the billionaires from the hundreds of protesters that showed up.
Yeah, my campaign is very different from the Romney campaign in a lot of ways. Sure, I'm just running a small campaign for State Representative in Connecticut. I'm not running to be President. I'm running to get people more involved in their local communities and to take a moment to help out their neighbors. While those $5 donations won't buy any airtime, they mean a world more than the $50,000 donations that Romney received.
This was brought home to me a few different ways during the following week. On Monday, hundreds of people expressed their hopes and wishes that that day would be happy for me. It is a great tradition made greater by social media. Monday was my birthday and hundreds posted on my Facebook wall 'happy birthday' messages in various forms. it was a happy day for me. I spent a bunch of time thanking people for their well wishes, and I thought, how nice it would be if we all spent more time wishing things would go well for others. When I was young, the clerks at the local stores would wish the customers, "Have A Nice Day". While for some wishing someone a happy birthday on Facebook, or wishing that someone would have a nice day might seem trite or insincere, what would it be like if we all took a little time out of our lives to try to make the lives around us a little better.
You see, I think this is the underlying issue in our current elections. For many it is about shrinking the size of government and reducing taxes. While everyone would like to pay is little as reasonable in taxes, the real question is, are we living up to our social contract of working together so that we are all better off? Are we practicing random acts of kindness?
These thoughts crystalized as I saw another post on Facebook. It is the old story of the cab driver who picked up an old woman to give her a ride to hospice.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
He wouldn't let her pay for the cab ride. You see, there are things more important than money. To paraphrase from the Christian tradition, no one can serve two masters…you cannot serve both kindness and money.
Now we must make wise use of our money and not waste it nor be pennywise and pound foolish, but when you get down to the nuts and bolts of governing we must seek to be kind to both the wealthy taxpayers and to people struggling to get by.
I don't expect the old saying Practice Random Acts of Kindness will ever get codified into legislation like An Act Concerning the Practice of Kindness at Irregular Intervals, but I hope that by representing the people of Woodbridge, Derby and Orange up in Hartford, I can get other legislators to think about whether the bills we will consider are really kind.
Perhaps, I can even encourage a little kindness in our political process as well.