A Full Citizen of Kindness

September 10, 2022

Quote of the Week

"But we waste so much of our energy in life by deliberating who and what shall be worthy of our love. In the deepest elemental sense these choices are not in our province any more than rain can choose what it shall fall upon." -- Mark Nepo


Of all the public places, dear
to make a scene, I’ve chosen here.

Of all the doorways in the world
to choose to sleep, I’ve chosen yours.
I’m on the street, under the stars.

For coppers I can dance or sing.
For silver-swallow swords, eat fire.
For gold-escape from locks and chains.

It’s not as if I’m holding out
for frankincense or myrrh, just change.

You give me tea. That’s big of you.
I’m on my knees. I beg of you.

Author: Simon Armitage

This week we bring to you a poem that carries a homeless person's humble ask of passers by. 

In our everyday lives, we too meet so many persons and non-persons. Sometimes recognizing their presence, sometimes too lost in our own selves, sometimes casting our judgments before rushing away.

This poem reminds us of the innumerable tiny acts -- the size of loose change and a cup of tea -- we can do and share alongside our mainstream roles. These ordinary acts can make a big difference to someone else's day.

Take a moment to also consider the title of the poem, 'give'. This word has multiple meanings. One of them is, "to yield to force or pressure; to relax; to become less rigid." When we step up to act kindly (e.g., to a hungry person, a lost stranger, a moody teenager, etc.), we create a give in our bodies, a kind of stretch or a bend to surrender to the moment at hand. To recognize the presence of someone else. In that sense, to give is to transform ourselves.  

We suggest this poem as a read-along activity for families. But it can be savored individually too. 

Reading Corner

Title: Song for a Whale
By: Lynne Kelly
For: Ages 9+

"A stirring and heart-warming tale of a young deaf girl who is determined to make a difference, the perfect read for fans of Wonder.

Iris was born deaf, but she's never let that define her; after all, it's the only life she's ever known. And until recently she wasn't even very lonely, because her grandparents are both deaf, too. But Grandpa has just died and Grandma's not the same without him. The only place Iris really feels at home anymore is in her electronics workshop where she loves taking apart antique radios.

Then, during a science lesson about sound waves, Iris finds out about a whale who is unable to communicate with other whales. The lonely whale awakens something in Iris. She's determined to show him that someone in the world knows he's there.

Iris works on a foolproof plan to help the whale but she soon realises that that is not enough: Iris wants to find the whale herself. One stolen credit card, two cruise ship tickets, and the adventure of a lifetime later, Iris and the whale each break through isolation to help one another be truly heard in ways that neither had ever expected." --Publishers

Find the book here.

Be the Change

A Map of Invisible Work

Collect a large size sheet of paper, colored paper, pencils and colored pens. Make a list of all the different service persons who empower day to day life for you, your family and your neighborhood from morning to late at night. Just reflect on your local geography -- park, school, dentist, streets. Some examples are: garbage collectors, police, security guards, bus drivers, shop keepers, grocers, farmers, gardener, etc. It could be anyone whose quiet and consistent work crosses your daily life. Reflect and jot down 10-15 names.  

Now draw small circles on the blank sheet, write the roles of the people you have identified. Put your name too in one of them. Now draw lines to connect the circles -- you will get a map of sorts. See how everyone is connected to you. If you do this exercise with a friend, see how your maps compare.

In designing this activity, we drew inspiration from this kids' activity by Tate Museum in London, UK. You may read it for extra guidance. 

Our idea is to foreground the countless persons whose seemingly ordinary work shapes our every day existence. The idea is to 'see' the invisible service taking place in the physical environments associated with children, and how connected they are to these people and their services. This activity is best suited for ages 8-9 and above.