5 March 2014

The Kindness Citation

I have just returned from a concert and award ceremony at a local school. The young children of a neighbour of mine performed and it was one of those things where I was casually invited by mother and seven year old daughter in the hallway a couple of weeks ago. It was a “What are you doing on the 5th March? – Nothing – you must come to Daniel and Milly’s concert – Sure” moments.

It sounded good at the time but I was sort of forced to accept.

After an arduous day at work all I really felt like doing this evening was splashing around in my pool for a while and then laying down on my couch and reading a book. I was of course obligated though so I had to go. Little Milly rapped on my apartment door half an hour or so before we had to leave and she was dressed up in a Durian costume. I held my nose in mock horror and called her stinky Milly and she squealed in laughter. She told me that she was part of an act of performing fruits.

Little bro Daniel was a coconut.

The concert itself was relatively entertaining and Milly performed well but silently in her role as a durian and Daniel was a lively coconut. There were some quite painfully long piano and violin recitals and a play about a lost butterfly that was performed in Hokkien that I didn’t really understand. I am sure that the performances were much more meaningful to the parents of the children than they were to me and there was much photography and videoing.

The awards ceremony piece at the end though was quite a surprise and it moved me to the point where I feel compelled to write it down - lest I forget.  

So at the conclusion of the performances the school Principal made some speeches and some awards were announced for drama and academia. It was all the usual sort of stuff that one would expect at such ceremonies. Tedium was beginning to set in for me at this point and my hands were a bit raw from prolonged applause. My jaw was a tad sore too from forced laughter and I my mind was drifting to thoughts of getting home and crawling into bed.

I sat up though when the Principal announced that the main award for the term was the Kindness Award. I wasn’t sure that I actually heard it correctly but the Principal repeated and emphasized the citation and remarked that it was regarded very highly.

I sat up even more.

When the School Principal announced the name of the recipient of the Kindness Award a very shy but beaming little ten-year-old boy stood up in the back of the crowd and made his way toward the stage. Whilst he was making his way forward the Principal asked the crowd of several hundred to put up their hands if they had been in any way affected by an act of kindness from the Recipient.

I actually felt goose bumps run up my spine and a lump formed in my throat as a sea of hands were raised around me. They were from fellow students, teachers - and well, almost everyone in fact and I think that I was amongst the very few that my hand lowered.

I am pretty sure that the enormity of the impact of this child sunk in as we in the throng looked around at each other and we stood more or less as one in an ovation. I searched the crowd with my eyes to locate the parents of this remarkable child and unsurprisingly their faces were flush with pride and tears were streaming down their faces.

The crowd hushed itself into silence as the little boy took the stage to receive his citation and in a voice that belied his age he spoke with great surety and humility about the importance of compassion and empathy and friendship. He talked with passion and wisdom about how acts of kindness are so simple to perform and how it was the responsibility of his generation to make the world a better place.

The little boy left the stage to a thunderous applause and I for one felt a lot better about myself.

I still do.

Kindness can sway masses you know. It can move mountains and it is a force to be reckoned with.

I very much like that they teach and reward kindness here in Singaporean schools. 

I think that it is something worth doing and it is certainly something worth celebrating.

It really is.

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