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Artwork by Robert Neubecker

Most days offer us opportunities to show kindness – as well as any one of its opposites, impatience, selfishness, greed, or intolerance. It is also relatively easy to express the idea of kindness in platitudes – “Kindness can change the world,” or “Kindness begets kindness.” Even our school theme for this year – ”No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” – has little value without the context of sincere action. We learn the Good, as Aristotle reminds us, by doing the Good (The Nicomachean Ethics).

While directing the carline on Friday morning, I witnessed a surprising exchange between two drivers, one a man and the other a woman. At first I thought something had gone wrong, as I could hear them yelling at each other from their cars. As they got closer to me, their words became clearer:

Driver #1: “I’m so sorry I honked at you.”

Driver #2: “That’s okay. I’m sorry I didn’t see your turn signal.”

It was a simple moment of kindness, a brief and sincere acknowledgment of a mistake and then an apology. It made my day.

To the two parents in the line on Friday, I would like to say “Thank you.” Your kind words and patience mattered. I felt somehow lighter that morning, more hopeful, and more capable. I hope the moment enlarged you as well. Your act of kindness was not wasted.