I was thinking: I believe that we should love our neighbour, but what does that actually mean? Are my beliefs detached from day to day life? It's really easy to preach unconditional love at people, or to make statements like 'you should love everyone', but do I just have my head in the clouds? There are dramatic things like that now-famous picture of Christians standing and protecting Muslims while at prayer in the recent Egyptian revolutions, but that’s not an opportunity we’re likely to get every day.
So I've been thinking about practical ways to love and be kind to other people on a down-to-earth and everyday basis. Please post your own ideas too. I’m particularly trying to think of ways to be kind to my fellow students at university, in tutorials or lectures, because university is quite an impersonal environment, so if you can think of anything speak up!
Oh yeah, and just a random observation: while it’s pretty cool to be kind to people you don’t know, it’s even nicer to be kind to people you don’t like or who don’t deserve it.
Anyway, my list:
1) Compliment a waiter or waitress to his or her manager.
2) Buy a coffee for one of those people selling newspapers in the city on your way to work or university.
3) Give up your seat for someone in the bus, not just elderly or disabled people.
4) Randomly bake cupcakes for a neighbour and take them round to their place as a random act of kindness.
5) Smile at people.
6) In a McDonalds drivethrough, pay for the person behind you.
7) Say please and thank you.
8) Make a prepared dinner for a sick or pregnant person (there’s a woman at my church who is due to give birth shortly and could really do with having a bit of the stress taken off her.)
9) Hold doors open for people.
10) Thank your bus driver.
11) Write a note on a piece of bright coloured paper to your spouse or child or parents to tell them that you love them and leave it somewhere unexpected (for example, in a lunchbox or briefcase)
12) Be courteous to telemarketers.. they have to deal with hundreds of grumpy responses in just one day.
13) Don’t drive aggressively but let people in on the highway.
14) Leave your change in a vending machine.
15) When your dog does a turd, pick it up in a plastic bag and don’t leave it on someone’s lawn.
16) Give directions to someone who is lost or a foreigner who doesn’t know where to go.
17) Leave a generous tip.
18) When you go on a trip, bring back a souvenir for someone who doesn’t expect it.
19) Invite the new kid or exchange student at school to come and sit with your group.
20) Pay someone a thoughtful compliment (i.e. one which they will recognise is actually true.)