What does kindness mean to you?
For the last 226 days I’ve had the opportunity to learn what kindness means to many people.
Being AIME’s Sunday Kindness editor, I’ve seen stories of kindness come across my desk each week, each story revealing that one person’s experience of kindness is unlike anybody else’s.
From Khali Sweeney telling how the kind words of his brother impelled him change his life direction from the streets to running an educational boxing program in Detroit; or Aminata Conteh-Biger discussing her ability to forgive those who captured her as a sex slave at the age of 18 to now being a voice of support for mothers and babies in Sierra Leone; or how Munjed Al Muderis wrote of fleeing Iraq on a rickety boat to Australia only to be stripped of his identity at a detention centre, is now helping patients get back on their feet as a leading orthopaedic surgeon.
The stories reveal what impact kindness can have. How it can change lives.
I know, because kindness changed mine.
At 18 months old I was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type two. A muscle weakening condition. I never felt different, and was never made to feel left out. It was only when I reached high school that I started to struggle with my disability. I could see the differences between myself and my peers. I could see their future but questioned my own. It was the first time I started to see myself as different. And it really sucked. I became introverted, lost confidence and started to not enjoy school.
It was the kindness of a teacher that changed my life. While in a mentoring session, the teacher told me that I was “one of the most positive people they’ve met”. This comment may seem small and trivial, and I don’t blame you for thinking that. But it came at a time when I was particularly down on myself. I couldn’t comprehend that someone thought that of me. It was an act of kindness that reminded me of who I actually am. It set off a spark that has seen me travel, study at university, work a full-time job, move out of my family home, to live a life where I do not feel different, a life well-lived.
It is a reason why the Sunday Kindness stories mean so much to me. I know how the simplest act of kindness can offer a greater reward.
A heartfelt thank you to the writers for 2018 who accepted our invitation with such enthusiasm and care. Thanks also to you, our readers, for your support and everlasting kindness.
The AIME team and I look forward to sharing more Sunday Kindness stories with you in 2019.
AIME Sunday Kindness editor 🌟