“Do good things”—that’s the charge pressed into the red rubber bracelet my friend Jamie Deen gave me.
Back in February, Jamie decided to use his celebrity to raise money selling these bands for $1 in support of Savannah’s food bank, America’s Second Harvest. Every dollar goes directly to this charitable organization.
I’ll admit that at first it seemed silly wearing a red rubber band that clashed with every outfit I owned. It got tied up in my silver bangle bracelets and made my wrist a little hot, as only an accessory in the swampy humidity of the South can do. I do support America’s Second Harvest, but does not donning the band somehow make me a demi-donor? A semi-supporter? Should I instead be wearing a band that says “Do some good things?” All this hesitancy toward wearing the band in spite of its noble cause got me wondering: has doing good things gone the way of banana clips and spiral perms? Is the day-glo bracelet a metaphor for how kindness has fallen out of fashion?
“It’s not really a market for good news,” Jamie said to me not too long ago, frustrated with the media that finds the whisper of scandal far more interesting than the hard fact that he’s helped feed over a million people in need.
I get it. The nightly news is packaged to astonish us and to catch our attention—to throw the unimaginable into our imaginations. But it’s the good news that impacts us in a big way, changing the landscape of our lives. The determined junior-college baseball player who made the unmakeable catch. The child whose lemonade-stand proceeds go to help other children in need. My friends who are walking across the U.S. to raise awareness about preservation (it’s worth a peek! www.hikingandhoping.com). The good news is there, you just have to look for it—and sometimes you don’t have to look as hard as you may think.
As of late I’ve been trying to actively surround myself with good people doing good things—people who are creative, inventive, responsible and kind—and distancing myself from the one-uppers whose personal struggles threaten to rain on my otherwise positive parade. But it’s not enough to simply frolic in the fountain of goodness; I have to do my part. I thought this would require some effort, but really just required me to listen to the shiny happy voices in my heart. I’ve tried to be more appreciative and thoughtful. It’s a little thing that has paid off in a big way with invaluable friendships and unexpected opportunities. I suppose in the land of Facebook “likes” and Twitter messages followed by “#thankful,” even the effort of a handwritten “thank you” note and 50-cent stamp goes a few miles further.
A young girl once informed me that handwritten notes were old fashioned and dated (she also said that married women with children should not be allowed to use Facebook because they were no longer interesting). But if people like her think kindness is no longer in fashion, I’m not longer worried about looking out of date.
Besides, I don’t actually believe that kindness is old fashioned. Like smiling and saying “good morning,” the new car smell and popsicles, good things are timeless. More important, I can teach my daughter that doing good things should always be a priority. And I can begin this lesson by sporting a day-glo band in spite of the aesthetic challenge it may pose to my wardrobe.
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