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Believe in Good: Sticking to Kindness


A funny thing happened to me last week. I’d gone to a Red Cross blood drive.

After making my donation I was sitting and chatting with other donors, having some water and a piece of cherry pie. The Red Cross folks want to ensure you have plenty of fluids and goodies to ensure you won’t feel faint when you’re running a little low on your red stuff. Faint or not, they don’t ever need to ask me twice to eat pie.

Just like normal, a Red Cross volunteer came up and slapped a little sticker on my chest. The sticker read, “Be nice to me. I gave blood today.” I said thanks and promptly forgot about having that sticker on my shirt.

I spent the rest of the afternoon running a few errands. I went to the grocery store. I dropped by a coffee shop. I stopped at the post office. Wherever I went, something rather odd was happening and I couldn’t figure out why.

The people I encountered looked at me, smiled, and were extremely polite. Not that people normally become grumpy when they spot me; it’s just that everyone I passed by or met broke into a big grin. It was if I’d turned into an adorable baby. That look: “Oh. Isn’t he the sweetest thing!”

It had a genuine effect on me. I smiled right back. I was overly polite. I even said things like, “I love your shoes!”

But it was still a mystery why everyone was behaving in such an extremely kind manner. It was as if I’d landed on Planet Prozac.

The puzzle wasn’t solved until I got home and caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. There it was: that sticker on my chest announcing I’d donated blood. Be nice to me. I finally understood.

First, I resolved to wear that sticker every day. I’m getting that sucker laminated.

More importantly, it made me realize all those folks I encountered – who I suppose might have treated me more neutrally if I’d not been sporting the sticker – all had within them a deep reservoir of grace and civility.

They possessed pleasant, positive feelings they chose to express. Even though it wasn’t necessary, they opted to be really, really nice.

Even more significantly, it dawned on me that if wearing a simple sticker was all it took to make that happen, then I had that choice to make, too.

At first glance, it might not appear to be a hard choice. It’s always good to be nice to others.

But it’s still a moral choice since it has to do with how life is conducted in relation to my neighbor. It’s a choice that calls me to grow, and risk, and be better today than I was yesterday.

I have the choice, every day, to be the person I have been, or the person I aspire to be. The person I’m meant to be. And the person God created me to become.

Every day, we can play it safe, or be courageous. We can stick to our routine or branch out and explore.

We can either keep to ourselves, eyes down, minding our own business. Or we can look up, smile, reach into our reservoir of kindness, and show appreciation for the person right in front of us.

Particularly these days when it seems so many of us are furious at each other, small and simple acts of grace are more important than ever. We’re not intended to live in fear, in isolation, or in suspicion of each other.

We’re built for higher, nobler purposes. Just imagine that you and everyone you meet is wearing a little sticker that reads, “I’m good. Be nice to me.”

And behave accordingly.

The Rev. David Green is pastor of Salem Church in Doylestown. He can be found there Sundays at 10 a.m., or anytime at