My parents raised me to be courteous. They were always kind and giving to others who were in need.
Currently my mother is involved through church with the refugees to assist with finding homes, jobs, schools, and friends as they adapt to a new life.
My father has always gone out of his way to help a neighbor mow a lawn, repair their home, or just help with whatever is needful.
They taught me to be human. To be kind, and care when someone was in need.
I have tried to apply that same caring respect to others in every career venture I have pursued. When I went to college and jumped into the cut-throat competition to be the best in every course, I found out that I do much better when I teach someone else what I’m learning. So, I wound up creating study groups to help teach those who didn’t understand. I ended up making amazing friends and really enjoying college. We would help each other discover our way through challenging concepts like multi-variable derivatives, real number analysis, python coding for “Big O” functions, and social stretching. (just seeing if you’re paying attention. Yes, social stretching is a real half-credit course offered at BYU)
My study group became very close, and one winter, there wasn’t enough time to work to make extra money for Christmas, so my wife and 3 kids (the youngest two weren’t born yet) decided to forego Christmas so that I could focus on maintaining my grades.
A few days before students left for the holidays, they all surprised us and came over with a sack of goodies and sang Christmas carols. These kids I had studied with (all young unmarried college kids) had become so close and intimately acquainted with my family that they performed the most memorable act of kindness I had ever witnessed in my life.
To this day, my children talk of the toys they received from my school friends. My wife and I were in tears when we saw them starting to hand out the very toys my children had asked for. By the end of their visit, we were all in tears, and trying to express our gratitude to them for the kindness they had shown us. To this day I still feel indebted to each of them.
What great marvelous goodness exists in the hearts of men and women in this world. I have been many times with my family on the other end of this gift of charity as well. We have given Christmas to others, we have given a freezer full of food to a neighbor who was going through hard times. We have been the neighborhood handyman for those who could not afford paid services.
I drove past a neighbor’s home one summer day in Arizona just after their sprinkler had burst, and I jumped in to fix it. I turned off their water, bought the parts to repair it, and had it back on and working before they even knew. If it wasn’t for the nosy neighbor lady telling them what I had done, that would have been my little secret, but they were ever so grateful for the kindness, and multiple times tried to pay me for the service.
We have gone on family bike rides, and found a dirty park and stopped to clean up as an impromptu family activity. Followed up with a brief session with hand sanitizer and moist towelettes…
As we travel across the country opening branches of the company, we find people in need, and are able to share food, offer a tank of gas, help them get unstuck off-roading, and make them smile.
My oldest son is a wonderful example of loving kindness. He often tells us that everyone is his new best friend. And that, If he had it his way, instead of waving as you go past, we would stop and give everyone a hug and tell them that they should be happy.
We have been lifted by so many kind people in this world, and I have found that the easiest way to be human, is to simply treat others with a greater measure of kindness than you treat yourself.
It’s easy to give a few dollars, or some food to a beggar, but often fail to go out of our way to do something nice for the people who surround us on a daily basis. At times I come to myself and realize that I can’t account for anything kind or generous I have done for my wife or kids...and then I make it a goal to go out of my way to serve them and express my deepest gratitude with simple notes, surprise hugs, or personal time together one on one to help them see how important they are to me.
Not only to go and do something for them to satisfy their wants, but even more, to take them and together to go and do something kind and generous for another. We have learned together as a family, just as my parents taught me, that we are happiest when we spend our time making others happy.