In Praise of Kindness

This week, I was privileged to receive the Special Service Award from the Erie County Bar Association for my work in assisting lawyers with depression.  It was a particularly emotional night for me.  You see, my 81 year old mother was in the audience.  She’s in very poor health and it was difficult for her to walk to our table at the event.  My father died 30 years ago.  So mom has been my only parent since I was 18 years old.

Each of the award recipients were asked to keep there remarks short.  Accordingly, I will try to keep this blog short.  I thanked the bar and many others for their love and support. First and foremost, my wife, Kelsey. No man could ask for a more beautiful and loving partner.  Then I said:

“Last but not least, I want to thank my mother who is here tonight.  She taught me one of life’s most important lessions:  kindness counts.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of the best selling book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, said that when he was a young man, he admired people who were cunning.  But as he grew older and wiser, he admired people who were kind.  See this great clip of him.

I told the audience the whopping statistics; about how major depression afflicts 350 billion people in our world.  Forty million people in our own country suffer from it.  It is the leading cause of disability worldwide and costs the U.S. economy 70 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. 

But, as Helen Keller once said, “Life is full of suffering, but it’s also full of the overcoming of it.”

To me, being of service to others has helped me cope with my own depression.  It has given me more than I have ever given.  Giving to other appeals to what is best in people.  To what Abraham Lincoln called, “the better angels of our nature.”

My role model for service is Mother Teresa.  She used to carry around “business” cards that she handed out to people.  On the front, was her contact information.  On the back, read a beautiful prayer she had written.

The fruit of silence is PRAYER

The fruit of prayer is FAITH

The fruit of faith is LOVE

The fruit of service is love is SERVICE

The fruit of service is PEACE.

I wish all of you the peace that comes from loving service.

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