Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Anniversary and 10,000 Acts of Kindness

I wrote yesterday about how we had spent 9/10/11 delivering cakes to local fire fighters in remembrance of those who had died in 9/11 and in appreciation for the character and selflessness it takes to show up for that kind of a job every day.  That had been organized by my friend Marcia's Triangle Kindness Project as part of a 9/11 Anniversary Pay It Forward campaign, in which EnviroMedia would pay $1.00 to the Pay It Forward Foundation for every act of kindness done in honor of 9/11.

So on 9/11 itself, I wanted us to be one of those 10,000 acts of kindness.  But what to do?  I really thought hard about something that we could do that would be worthy of the significance of this anniversary.  What would be the biggest difference we could make?  What would be in keeping with the event?  Then, as so often happens, an idea occurred to me that immediately seemed so right, it knew that was it.

How about, I thought, if we gave some flowers as a sign of unity and good some Muslims?

I bought the flowers from our local farmer's market (helping local farmers--bonus points for that, right?). Most of their flowers had been destroyed by Hurricane Irene, but they did have some sunflowers.  I thought they were the perfect flowers, because they always seem so optimistic and life-affirming to me, without being too girly or romantic or anything like that.  After all, the sun shines on us all equally; it doesn't care if we are Christians or Muslims or Americans or Chinese or whatever.

And I knew just the place to deliver them.  As I stated in an earlier blog, representatives from the Islamic Association of Raleigh had come to our World Religion class to give a presentation on Islam, and we later observed a prayer ceremony at their mosque.  So it seemed perfect to return the favor with some flowers on behalf of the entire class, given in appreciation and in friendship.  I had also found a card with a dove in it (doves have a significant role in Islam as well as in Judaism and Christianity, in addition to their symbol of peace), in which I wrote a message of peace and unity on a day associated with acts of violence and hate.

I have to admit, however, that as we were driving to the Islamic center, I had a few twinges of doubt.  Would this seem too weird?  Is it inappropriate to bring flowers to a mosque?  We had studied the etiquette of visiting, and that wasn't mentioned as a taboo, but maybe they hadn't listed everything.   My son, who has been a real trooper through all this, was a little uncomfortable as well, but we talked about the need to reach out to others who were different from us, even when it is uncomfortable.

However, as soon as I got to the mosque, I knew it was right that we were there.  Because what was sitting in the middle of the parking lot but a police car.

Fortunately, the police officer was very laid back, so it appeared that she was just there in case of trouble, but apparently there hadn't been any so far.  She complimented our flowers, and seemed to be glad to see some people who definitely looked like they didn't belong to the Muslim community dropping by for good purposes, rather than the kinds of reasons she was probably there to deter.

So we went in, and I asked for the man who had spoken to our class.  The people in Security didn't seem to know him, and were asking around among various supervisors, when he walked through the door!  Once again, things aligned perfectly.  It turns out he had spent the morning at a special interfaith service for the 9/11 anniversary held by Habitat for Humanity.  So he had spent his morning reaching out to others on this day, but I think he was touched that others reached out to the Islamic Association as well.

So that was our act of kindness for 9/11.  I hope there were at least 9,999 others, and that all of them were as satisfying and meaningful to those involved as we found our small act to be.


  1. Very interesting post. Hey O'l Mom, guess what my act of kindness was!

  2. You do many acts of kindness every day, honey. One of my favorites was that you gave me a foot message!

  3. Love this. May I please post a link to the Pay It Forward 9/11 Facebook page?
    --Melanie Fish

  4. That would be great. We should all be Paying It Forward all the time!

  5. ...May the world take to carrying flowers instead of gratitude for signs of hope!

  6. What a wonderful gesture! Thank you of thinking of this for and on behalf of the Pathfinder class. Let us spread love, peace, and goodwill to all humankind.

  7. Very inspiring, thanks for sharing Carol! Namaste

  8. Thanks, and Namaste back! Let's just keep passing it on...