The day after Christmas, in a cafe, I was sitting on a bench with my laptop on a table and I noticed my battery was running low, so I looked for a plug, which I did not see. A stranger must have seen me looking, because he said, “There’s one under the bench you’re sitting on.”
So I was able to get my battery charging while being online, due to one act of kindness. Kindness is one of the most striking experiences. It seems to have its own space and energy, even dissolving one’s sense of time — as in, no longer having something to do immediately or having to go somewhere soon.
A little after that, I noticed water spilled on the cafe floor, so I went to the front counter and told an employee behind it, guessing she would probably not see it otherwise.
She mopped it up a little later and put a plastic caution sign out while the floor was drying.
About 40 minutes later, at a nearby natural grocery store, I parked near the EV chargers, but couldn’t tell if I was taking up a designated space for EVs and plug-in hybrids or if I was far enough away to not be doing that. It looked okay, so I took that space. After coming out of the store to put something in my trunk, a man asked if I was going to stay there long, because he and his friend wanted to charge their Nissan Leaf, which is a full EV and might rely on such a charge. So I moved my car so they could do that.
Kindness on a personal level is something that most or many of us respond to positively, and it seems to grow if you allow it.
Kindness to other species, to ecosystems, or to the planet might seem less immediate and/or have a slighter presence.
I don’t have an EV but would like one (my car gets about 35 mpg, and before that I had an old diesel Mercedes that I ran on biodiesel sometimes, or a mixture).
I was once told that my grandfather planted a seedling tree on his farm for every child and grandchild he had. I remember going to that part of the property somewhat away from his house and walking among what looked like Christmas trees. Some were several feet tall, and a few were 6 feet or more.
When I was an adult, I donated enough to Heifer International to plant about 8,000 seedlings. I never told him, because I wanted to reach 10,000 before I did, but I did not get there before he passed, so he never knew. I did tell my grandmother later, and she said, “You should have told him that. He would have liked to know it.”
Some of these “little” actions we take are never known by society or documented. Maybe we are embarrassed to say anything or we don’t want to appear as arrogant or self-important.
The micro actions are happening, though. They don’t make the news, and they may not even appear in our everyday discourse that much, or at all. We do them silently and sometimes habitually.
Five years ago, if someone had told you a new 4-passenger EV was coming out soon that had 238 miles of range per charge and was going to cost less than $40,000, some of us might have been amazed.
On Craigslist today, there are used Model S premium sedans for less than $50,000 and used Leafs for less than $15,000 in the Bay Area, and when the Bolts and Model 3s arrive, these prices will have decreased further.
(The US is not even doing that well in solar power capacity compared with some European nations, so we have some catching up to do.)
On a national scale, the politics of American clean, renewable energy just took a big body blow, but so much of the good that is happening in this area is due to the small micro actions taken daily by people like us.
No, these little things won’t make the evening news, but they are occurring and there is no reason to be too discouraged. Keep doing whatever it is you do as small acts of kindness for other species, for ecosystems, and the planet.
They add up, and many of us — as in tens of millions — are going in the right direction. Many years ago, I was driving from Southern California to the Midwest and went past Vegas at night. I could see the blinking and neon lights and thought, “what a waste of electricity.”
It still may be wasting some, but at least now some of the electricity is renewable.
During moments of adversity, we may lose some faith and even consider giving up. However, if there were some official tally of all the good things millions of people are doing around the world every day, we might be quite heartened.
Right now, we don’t have a global way to document all the positive actions millions of people are taking every day, but if they were being recognized and counted in a transparent way, we might be astonished at what is happening. If you want to, every time you do something positive, you could share something about it on social media or at least write a very quick email to yourself about it. By the end of a week or a month, you might be surprised to find out how much you accomplished.
My favorite function on the iPhone 5 isn’t anything complicated — it’s the pedometer, because it was very encouraging when I first used it to see that just walking around the office resulted in taking 900 steps. How many positive things do you do in one day? If you don’t know, how about counting them just for a day, and then sharing one or more publicly?
If it sounds crazy to think that individual actions could be documented online for anyone to see, note that the website Care2.com has been doing it for years.
If you look on the homepage in the right margin and scroll down some, you can see a section called “Members Doing Good.” There, you will see the names of members and their positive actions. This kind of personal goodness accounting and transparency could become normalized across apps and many more sites. It is sort of like crowdsourcing kindness. How much would such widespread information help inspire us, and encourage more positive actions?
Image by Brocken Inaglory (CC By S-A 3.0)