Because we have more opportunities to exercise kindness…

Fiorella H. La Guardia, New York's 99th Mayor

Fiorella H. La Guardia, New York's 99th Mayor

Fiorella H. La Guardia, New York City’s mayor in 1935, must have held a comparable conviction as George Washington Carver. Carver believed that how far you got in life depended on your tenderness with the young, your compassion with the aged, your sympathy for the striving, and your tolerance for the weak and strong…because someday he said, in your life you will have been all of these.

According to Our Daily Bread (April 4th, 1922), New York’s 99th mayor Fiorella H. La Guardia showed up in court one night in the poorest area of New York City and suggested the judge go home for the evening as he took over the bench.

La Guardia’s first case involved an elderly woman arrested for stealing bread. When asked whether she was innocent or guilty, this soft reply was offered, ” I need the bread, Your Honor, to feed my grandchildren.” “I’ve no option to punish you,” the mayor responded. “Ten dollars or ten days in jail.”

Proclaiming the sentence, he simultaneously threw $10 into his hat. He then fined every person in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city “where a grandmother has to steal food to feed her grandchildren.” Imagaine the surprise of those in the room, who probably thought this was an open-and-shut case. When all had contributed their 50 cents, the woman paid her fine and left the courtroom with an additional $47.50.

It has been said that kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life. So often it is easy to be grit, rather than oil, by judging, condeming, or berating those going through trails and tribulations. Yet, an act or word of kindness can cool the friction and help someone keep pressing on. Look around you. To whom will you show kindness like that experienced by the grandmother?

(Speaker’s Sourcebook II – by Glenn Van Ekeren)

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