The sense of irony was sick, but Monday was World Kindness Day, and on that autumn morning, four people were stabbed outside Lambright Sports and Wellness Center on the Louisiana Tech campus, a random act of violence by a young man quickly taken into custody.
Outside of a big gym and workout center. A place where people swim and play.
And the night before in Shreveport, there was a shooting in the parking lot of the YMCA that left one victim dead and another in the hospital.
Not exactly our kind of Kindness Day.
Kindness Day was established in 1998 with the obvious intent of highlighting the good and the positive, of bridging the gap between all our sorts of differences, and to recognize how much we are alike, to encourage unity.
Some of us aren’t getting the picture.
For lots of reasons, the Lambright Center is a special place to me. I remember it being built. I lived in one of the little houses where its parking lot is now. No telling how many hours we were having fun in there, 40 years ago.
The Shreveport YMCA on the parkway is 100 yards from the Little League fields, holy ground to me for about a decade 25 years ago. Sweaty boys and girls running around, eye black smeared, learning the game, making friends. Unbridled joy. Who pulls a gun 100 yards from a bag of baseballs and a concession stand filled with Frito Pies?
I know the people who run the Lambright. The gang who runs the YMCA are friends of mine, and for a long time. Good-hearted people. None of us are naïve enough to think that violence happens only in back alleys, but goodness gracious… Instead of shooting or stabbing someone, why don’t these people just go work out?
Few if any habitual offenders will read this. So I’m preaching to the choir. But the rest of us are going to have to double-up on the kindness beat, it looks like, and cover for the ones who get their kicks by ruining the lives of people minding their own business. Have these people never held a baby? Played catch with a child? Petted a dog or provided a lap for a cat’s nap? Have they never laughed? Never lived?
We don’t get a pass from trying to make things better just because a fraction of the population is intent on making things worse. Mark Twain is credited with saying that kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see. Maybe some hate-filled soul will see your kindness and it will make a difference.
He passed away several years ago, but Leo Buscaglia was a professor at USC who in the 1980s was called “Dr. Love” because of his popular books and talks on how and why we should connect. This was after a student’s suicide moved him to start a noncredit class he called “Love 1A.” Not a perfect class or a perfect man, I’m sure, but it started a conversation worth contemplating.
“Too often,” he said, “we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
An anonymous quote that has stuck with me is that “what you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”
So welcome to Kindness WEEK. Maybe we can pull some of the slack and get this turned around a bit. Keep plugging and not growing weary in doing good, that kind of thing, even though lately, the lunatic fringe seems to be winning more than their fair share of games.
Meanwhile at Tech, the University’s Counseling Services are available to students individually and in a group setting at no charge. Appointments can be made by visiting Keeny Hall 310, calling 318.257.2488, or visiting the website at latech.edu/counseling-
A campus blood drive is scheduled for Thursday outside Tolliver Hall from 9 until 3.
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