Thankful for a Kindness

“These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done.” — The Buddha, in the Anguttara Nikaya (AN 2:118).

The doorbell rings. I stand up from the couch where I work cross-legged with my laptop actually in my lap, walk to the door and open it. There’s no one there. By now, in the second month of staying home, I know there won’t be anyone there. I look down and see a package from Amazon. Is it the replacement can-opener? The pandemic-proof powdered peanut butter? Underwear? The broom? The delivery person is driving away, but there will be an automated email asking me if the experience of having a package delivered to my door was “great” or “not so great”, then offering the opportunity to rate the driver in various ways. This is the only way many workers are appreciated – that is, if we’ve taken the time to click on the feedback at all – by generic, faceless, anonymous thumbs up or down, with jolly icons signifying qualities employers wish to encourage. 

Today is May 1st, May Day, an ancient European celebration of Spring. In many countries, May Day is also International Workers Day, Labor Day, a big holiday. Here in Los Angeles, today marks the 20th anniversary of the traditional march standing up for those who may be oppressed and exploited, a march to celebrate workers and immigrants. They are on the job, essential workers who keep this society going in good times and bad, many confronting COVID-19 on the front lines while many of us are staying home to flatten the curve. And we are grateful! The Buddha talked about gratitude in response to kindness, especially when someone has gone out of their way to help. Our very lives depend on the kindness and hardships of others, human and non-human.

Gratitude brightens the mind and gladdens the heart. In New York City at 7 pm, people go to their apartment windows and make noise to cheer on the health care workers when the shift changes. Wherever you are, join me at 6pm PT today to applaud for all our essential workers. Lean out your window, go to your balcony, or step out your front door and clap for ALL workers for a few minutes or seconds, so they/we can hear our heartfelt appreciation and feel our gratitude across the city – and across the world! #MayDay2020 #ClapForWorkers. Thank you!


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