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Random Acts of Kindness: A Thanksgiving Reflection

November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving day, starts the holiday season for many of us and with it, the flood of emotions that often take residence in us during these weeks.

While taking the time to count our blessings, we also note those who have left us over the years and who are no longer at our holiday events. While appreciating all that we have, we also take note of the many patients we serve who have so much less than we do and who struggle to merely survive in a society that seems to be less friendly and hospitable to them than in years before. And while we give thanks for the freedoms we cherish living in the Unites States of America, we now live with the added fear that terrorism brings to our communities – both the terror of senseless acts of violence that we have seen here in New York and around the world, and the terror some experience merely living as a person of color, or being identified as Muslim on our city streets.

All of these contradictions and many more that I am sure you might speak of, are what make up the challenges we face in our lives. But they are also what gives us the opportunity to rise above the everyday accomplishments in our lives and in our jobs and to do something great.

I hope you saw the news story of a young woman in New York City a week or so ago who sat across from a homeless woman who was totally barefoot on the train. She took off her own shoes, realizing that she had many more at home, and put them on the feet of the homeless person across from her. Her act was witnessed by a bystander who had an extra pair of shoes in his bag and proceeded to give the young woman another pair of shoes to replace the ones she had given away.

This story struck me, not only because doing something like this on a crowded subway car is such a bold act, but because of the number of opportunities we have in our lives to do something extraordinary like that, and the number of times we pass those opportunities by.

I saw the young shoe-donor interviewed on television and she couldn’t contain the joy it had brought her to do such a small thing for a complete stranger.

Watch here:

As our children often teach us, giving is the one thing that is far better than getting.

So I pledge myself to try out some “random acts of kindness” this year, not so that I can share them with others or be congratulated for them, but for the mere joy in bringing a bit of joy or relief to another person – maybe a family member, maybe a friend, or maybe even a total stranger.

I wish you and all those you hold dear, a healthy and happy holiday season and a joyous transition to 2016!

About

A blog dedicated to the fight for social justice, logic, efficiency, quality and compassion in the way health services are delivered, paid for and regulated. My hope is to engage with you in a bold conversation of health care issues – and share my perspective as a physician, as CEO of a non-profit health care system, and as one who seeks to make the lives of those around him happier and healthier.

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