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BEVERLY BECKHAM

Beverly Beckham: Why isn’t kindness news?

Nurses, doctors, and medical workers stood outside of Brigham and Women's cheering and taking pictures as the Massachusetts National Guard 104th Fighter Wing did a flyover as a show of support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurses, doctors, and medical workers stood outside of Brigham and Women's cheering and taking pictures as the Massachusetts National Guard 104th Fighter Wing did a flyover as a show of support during the COVID-19 pandemic.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff/File 2020

Every day it gets a little harder to keep the faith. I’m trying. But I’m failing more than succeeding.

I live in two separate worlds. The world around me. The world in which I exist every day. My house. My street. All the places I visit. The people I know. The people I see. The people I text and e-mail and talk to. Old friends. New friends.

I don’t see hate or division in my very small world. I see differences of opinion. I see different behaviors. I see conflict sometimes, but I don’t worry, in my small world, about conflict escalating to violence. I don’t worry about my town’s or my family’s safety. I fly a rainbow flag. I have a Black Lives Matter sign on my lawn. No one has torched either.

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But then there’s the big world outside of my smaller one. The big world brought to us every day, 24 hours a day, in which there is nothing but conflict and violence and hate and division.

And I live in this world, too, because I read it online. I listen to it on the radio. And I watch it every night, BBC, News Center 5, World News Tonight. I wallow in this world, I don’t just wade, and because of this, anger is in my head now and in my pores, all the violence and injustice and hatred thickening, like sauce intensified by reduction.

I see a man at Trader Joe’s every week. I don’t know his name, or his politics. Maybe he’s in his 40s, hard to tell because he wears a mask. He packs bags, talks to customers, and puts a happy spin on the day even on bad days. He is always kind and upbeat.

Why isn’t kindness news? Here’s a guy not simply doing his job, but doing it with good will, with a smile in his eyes. There are countless men and women just like him.

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A woman who works for a Massachusetts mayor overheard a conversation last week. Fred Bruce, who every December puts poinsettias on the graves of family and friends, was talking about his plan to put poinsettias on the graves of people who have died of COVID-19. He wasn’t looking for money, only permission. The woman, an office worker, tucked some bills into Fred’s hand. “Get yourself a cup of coffee,” she said. She had slipped him $100.

More kindness.

My neighbor is a doctor. She works from dawn until long after dusk even in the summer when dusk comes late. She is always working. But serving is the more accurate word. She serves people in need. Is her goodness and selflessness not newsworthy because it is the rule and not the exception?

My mail just came. A friend sent me a book. And gift wrapped it. And wrote a note. “I saw this and thought of you.” Thought enough to buy a book, wrap it, and take it to the post office.

A woman who lives near my aunt and uncle in Florida is my lifeline to them. They are not well. She checks on them. Brings them lunch. She hardly knows them. She doesn’t know me.

A group of 40-somethings who can’t have their 25th high school reunion due to COVID-19 have united to help find a cure for their classmate’s son.

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Imagine what it would it be like to be exposed to good news like this every day? News that feeds our souls. Imagine how much differently we would see the world?

When I was in seventh grade, Sister Ellen St. Dennis told our class that we are judged by the company we keep. She then explained that we are also shaped by the company we keep.

You hang out with thieves, you learn to steal. But even worse? You eventually believe that everyone steals and that stealing is no big deal.

What I have learned from the news is that everyone lies, is out for himself, and will do anything for money. What I have learned from the news is division, disrespect, and hate.

I don’t hate anyone in my small world. Not anyone. But in the big world, it’s all too easy to hate.

The 24/7 news cycle needs to be balanced if we are to be balanced. Not only what went wrong today but what went right. Man killed. Man saved. It cannot continue the way it is now. Little shocks us. Nothing surprises us.

Life isn’t all bad all the time. Not even in the worst of times. This is the truth that news programs could show. It’s a truth that would uplift, and might even unite us.

Beverly Beckham’s column appears every two weeks. She can be reached at bev@beverlybeckham.com.