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Warmest regards: What if kindness were contagious?

We need another epidemic.

No, not like the deadly COVID-19.

We need an epidemic that heals rather than hurts.

We need people to do more than sit back and talk about how bad things are. We need them to respond by trying to paint their world with kindness.

We need a kindness epidemic to counter the ills of the world.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks that way.

In my town and probably in yours small groups are springing up, encouraging individuals to spread the virtues of kindness, civility and caring about others.

There is definitely a small grassroots movement trying to make us a more caring society.

In our town a few women who call themselves Ambassadors of Kindness are meeting with youth groups, encouraging them to do their own small acts of kindness.

Each week the kids report their kind acts. Maybe it’s only being friendly to the kid no one seems to like. But it’s great they are learning to think how their actions affect others.

I’ve seen those kindness groups in church groups, in communities and in schools. It happens when one or two individuals see the possibility of positive change by unifying others in the mission of spreading good works.

Small and loosely organized, these groups might not change the world. But they are building an awareness of how each of us can do small acts of kindness that will reverberate.

I’ve long believed people are basically good. If they see a way they can help someone, they will. The problem is people don’t know how they can effect change until leaders step forward to remind them how powerful small acts of kindness can be, both for the person being helped and the one offering the help.

When one elderly woman on our street couldn’t get around after surgery, neighbors responded when they learned she needed help. They took turns bringing food and helping.

If you watch the news on any given day, you might wonder as I do what in the world is happening to us as a society. I believe those who say we are as a nation at a tipping point. Things are spiraling in strange directions and I often find myself wondering what is happening to us.

I felt that way reading the once venerable New York Times where columnist Marla Gay says she is “disturbed” when she sees dozens of trucks flying the American flag.

This week I was the one disturbed when I saw internet photos of kids tramping on our flag.

Do you know what I feel when I see someone flying the American flag? I feel pride.

Pride in my country and pride in the flag that has always united us. I don’t understand those who says the flag is divisive.

I see the red in the flag and I think of all the blood that was shed when so many gave their lives fighting for our nation. Many lives were also shed to free our nation from slavery.

While the few voices vilifying the flag and putting down our country get the headlines, the majority of people feel differently.

On the Fourth of July as my husband and I were watching fireworks in a local park packed with spectators, suddenly we heard a few men break out in spontaneous song. They were singing “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

They might have been a bit off key, but the emotion with which they sang inspired others to join in. Soon, while spectacular fireworks lit up the sky, hundreds of voices joined in the songs that honor our nation.

When the songs were over, there was thunderous applause.

That applause was for our nation and for the pride and gratitude most of us feel to live here.

The guys that spontaneously started the singing made all of us feel good.

Small acts of kindness can be like lighting a candle in a dark room. Sure, it’s just a small light. But it can help others see more clearly.

I’m at the age where many of my friends are losing their husbands. From experience, I know that when the funeral is over and everyone goes home, that’s when loneliness sets in.

And that’s when a supportive circle of friends is crucial.

Yet that’s a time when many people pull away.

Want to do a small act of kindness? Call a recent widow and take her out to lunch. Maybe she needs someone to just listen.

If you have an elderly neighbor living alone, take over something like fresh strawberries or baked goods. She’ll value your company more than what you bring.

What about offering to drive someone to a doctor’s appointment? When people are no longer able to drive, their entire world shrinks. No longer able to hop in the car and drive, getting groceries or going to medical appointments is a major problem if they live alone.

The landscaper who works for me does an incredible act of kindness by driving his elderly neighbor to kidney dialysis three times a week. That’s a big commitment and he loses money by taking time off work to do that. But he says when he gets old he hopes someone will be there for him.

Help spread the kindness epidemic, one good deed at a time.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.