Once in a while, a news story brings tears to my eyes. Often they are stories of human suffering, but this one was a turn-around story, from one of cruelty to one of human compassion. It reminds me of the possibilities and the good that we can offer one another, as neighbors and as a community.
In brief, an anonymous note was left in a family’s mailbox criticizing their unkept yard. The letter referred to the home as an “eyesore” that hurt the resale value of other houses. As it turns out, this family has a 3 year-old diagnosed with autism and battling cancer. Their journey has included intensive caregiving as the child is nonverbal and has endured multiple hospitalizations.
This upset mother shared the note as well as her story on social media. In response, her neighbors and community chose kindness. The next day, a company showed up to mow her lawn, for free. Volunteers then arrived to work on the landscaping. Neighbors shopped for groceries and supplies for the family. See the full story here: https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/06/us/nasty-note-neighbor-trnd/index.html
How could we choose kindness first, and avoid the suffering? The foundations of high-quality connections offer a key strategy: Assume the best of one another. Instead of berating the family for the condition of their yard, this neighbor could have reached out and asked, what is going on or how can I help? The kind response of volunteers demonstrates that a sense of positive regard and positive underlying assumptions can go a long way.