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Be Benevolent

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt Phllip C. Boal
  • 451 AEW Chapel Operations
The morning I left home to start my deployment journey to Kandahar Airfield, I was greeted by the airline desk attendant with a "good morning!" I replied with a "hello!" and small talk consumed our brief encounter until I departed to continue processing through the Spokane International Airport. During my journey from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. to eventually arriving at KAF, I was addressed with a numerous variety of salutations. Albeit, many were heightened as I traveled in uniform; however, all were genuine and sincere. Greetings came from strangers to hotel personnel to airline stewards to friends and associates. Why is it in our human nature that when we first meet a stranger, our automatic reaction is to declare an expression of greeting, goodwill, or courtesy by word or gesture? Why are we conditioned to instinctively say "hi" to perfect strangers? Conversely, why do we not say "hi" more often to all whom we encounter in our Air Force day?

My wife is the epitome of kindness in many ways. During my junior year in high school, I was an extremely self-centered punk who strutted around campus with vain pride. Each day during spring semester that year, my last class of the day lead me past a set of lockers where a girl would say "hello Phil" as I passed each day. At first, I would simply go by without acknowledging this act of kindness. After several weeks of this daily occurrence, I began countering with an arrogant "hello" oblivious that one day, I would marry this girl. Needless to say, I count my blessings every day to have her for my wife. I know I'm a lucky man! Her simple yet sincere greetings chopped away at the conceited attitude I carried and eventually helped me see the importance of being kind.

Last summer, I assisted in conducting a Christian centered marriage seminar for personnel assigned to Fairchild AFB. I remember the words and advice discussed. Specifically a verse from the Holy Bible's New Testament: First Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 3: Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. Significantly rare is the word benevolence or its root: benevolent. Benevolent is a word that we do not hear very often. Its root is Latin, and means "to wish someone well." To be benevolent is to be kind, well meaning, and charitable. When we were younger, I remember a disciplinary tactic my wife initiated with our children to reinforce benevolence in our home. Whenever our children argued or fought with one another, she would settle them down and the instigator's punishment would be to sing the words:

I want to be kind to ev'ryone
For that is right, you see.
So I say to myself, "Remember this:
Kindness begins with me
A protestant minister shared an experience that teaches how important each member is. While looking out over the congregation, he saw a child with a large box of crayons filled with a variety of different colors. As he looked at the many members of the congregation, he was reminded that, like the crayons, they were very similar but each was also very unique. He remarked: "The shade they bought to the congregation and the world was all their own. ... They had their individual strengths and weaknesses, personal longings, private dreams. But together, they blended into a color wheel of spiritual unity." In today's United States Air Force, we build that unity and share our unique colors through benevolence: individual acts of kindness.

According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, there is some evidence that being kind can make a real difference to the well-being and health of individuals who practice it and receive it. "No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves." -Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)

I love my wife! Since my junior year in high school, I have known her to stand rooted in kindness to all whom she meets. I love our Air Force! As a Chaplain Assistant, I try in every way to spring forth kindness to ALL whom I encounter. As I begin my journey with you all here at KAF, I hope I can be a benevolent tree of kindness. If in passing you hear a "hello!" do not just pass by and say nothing, but be benevolent and let your true colors paint your path and respond with a "hi!"