Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Random Act of Kindness

Once upon a time, so the story goes, probably around the 1760’s, a man was traveling through a village in Northern Ireland. (Perhaps in the townland of Moybeg Kirley, near Tobermore, as Wikipedia indicates that is where the man in this story was born.) Hearing sounds of children at play, the traveler followed the sounds to a schoolyard. It was recess and the students were busy playing with each other. All except for one little boy who was all by himself. Interested, the man asked the playground supervisor if there was something wrong with the child. She explained that he was the dullest boy in the whole school, could not learn, amounted to nothing, and basically never would amount to anything. (My guess would be a very bright and very introverted child who did no fit in and was completely misunderstood.) Pained to hear such cruel words spoken about a student, the man went over to the boy. Speaking cheerful and engaging the boy in conversation, the traveler ending the chat by assuring the boy: “One of these days you will make a fine scholar. Never give up. Try, my boy. Try.” That moment of encouragement triggered something in the child’s mind. Adam Clarke, for that was the boy’s name—the one who would never amount to anything—did try. He made a fine scholar, indeed. In 1807 he received the diploma of M.A. from the University and King's College, Aberdeen. In 1808 the University of Aberdeen conferred on Clarke the honorary degree of LL.D -the University’s highest academic honor. Clark’s Bible Commentary was used for at least the next couple hundred years. Two centuries! One person. One contact. One word of encouragement. One changed life. One amazing legacy. That is what a random act of kindness can do. Try sprinkling some around in this upcoming year. 

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