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Consider showing a little kindness

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The great Rabbi and teacher, Abraham Joshua Heschel, once wrote, "When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people." That's one of those quotes that I consider a keeper.

I'm growing older. In fact, I just turned 50 years of age. And, while in no way do I feel old, I very much agree with the famous Rabbi. The older I get, the more I believe in kindness. If we think about it, it really costs us no more energy to smile than it does to frown. It costs no more emotional energy to express a kind sentiment than it does to respond rudely to another human being.

In our "in your face" culture, I'm saddened that many have lost the sense of what it means to be nice. It appears that some folks proudly wear the label "jerk." I don't understand such thinking or behavior. And frankly, I suspect such behavior really does cost us much more.

Just recently, a civilian businessman told me that I did not act like a "Lieutenant Colonel." That surprised me a bit so I inquired further. I wondered what he meant by such a remark. He noted that in some of his business dealings, he had encountered some military officers that behaved arrogantly ... rudely. He was pleased to know that there are folks in the military that are well ... like him ... he was after all, a kind and gentle spirit.

Every Airman, every Soldier, every Sailor, every Marine, every contractor, and every civil service employee is a recruiter. We all work as public affairs officers for the Department of Defense. In effect, we are ambassadors for the United States military and for our nation. When we behave in ways that are unseemly and embarrassing, we do a disservice to our compatriots and to every American citizen.

The country music singer, Glen Campbell had a popular tune in the 1970s called, "Try a Little Kindness." I like the words of the chorus:

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets


As you work, play, and live in the community, I urge you to consider what it means to represent our world's greatest military. Consider showing just a little kindness out there. Just be nice ... it can't hurt!