Most of us like the idea of kindness. We like to be at the receiving end of kindnesses. However, sometimes we can let ourselves off the hook when it comes to acting kindly. We tell ourselves that when we have less to do and life is treating us better, when we have more to give, when the others are more deserving, then we’ll be kind…
The Trail of Tears –
After the Indian Removal Act of 1830 many thousands of Native American peoples were forcibly removed from their lands. The relocation was mostly from the southeastern United States to present day Oklahoma.
This forced movement not only dispossessed many Native American nations, it also resulted in thousands of deaths from exposure, disease and starvation. The name, Trail of Tears, originates from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1838 and 1839.
Nine years later, in 1847, the Choctaw survivors of the Trail of Tears heard of the Great Famine in Ireland. They heard about the dispossession, death and starvation that had been going on in Ireland since 1845. Though clearly not wealthy or advantaged themselves, they responded by collecting $710 and sending it to help starving Irish men, women and children.
According to a written account at the time, “Traders, missionaries, and (Indian) agency officials contributed, but the greater part of the money was supplied by the Indians themselves.“(1)
The Choctaw sent the money to Memphis – one of the cities in which the military had gathered them before they set out on the Trail of Tears. From there it made its way to Irish famine victims.
The astounding kindness of the Choctaw is an example of how suffering can acquire meaning when it is transmuted into understanding and generosity. It is also an outstanding example of how it is always possible to be kind, regardless of our circumstances.
If you’d like some suggestions for kind acts why not download a Kindness Calendar from Action for Happiness?
These Butterfly Effect kindnesses will certainly enrich the lives of the recipients. And, who knows, your kindness may even begin a chain of positive actions that might, ultimately, change the world!