Spontaneous Kindness is when we take advantage of an unexpected opportunity to be kind to others that suddenly presents itself. For instance, you come upon an elderly person on the side of the road with a flat tire and stop to change it. This type of kindness is admirable and happens quite often. What does not happen as frequently though, is Planned Kindness. Look for opportunities to plan acts of kindness, mercy, and grace to others. Your local jail or prison is one place in need of a ministry of kindness – imagine if we treated inmates as human beings and with dignity – how they might respond. Imagine planned kindness at a local assisted living facility. A wonderful opportunity I’ve seen is a “pet therapy” program run by volunteers that brings trained small animals (cats, dogs, rabbits) into assisted living or nursing homes on a regular basis for residents to engage with. There are so many of our citizens who suffer from loneliness and who are treated as less than full humans, simply because they are frail and elderly or sit in a prison. Yet inmates and residents of retirement homes also desire and need human (and sometimes animal) compassion and interaction to help make them whole. You could be the person who makes a difference in their life. Planned kindness can help change your city and state. Although one person alone cannot make the world a better place, many individuals working together in their local communities can, together, begin to remake the world. What American society has been doing isn’t working. Our prisons only dehumanize and destroy the human spirit, churning out hardened criminals rather than better citizens. Our schoolchildren need empathy and kindness modeled for them – so many do not see kindness at home. It breaks my heart when I see a child who lives in fear of his parents because yelling and fighting is a normal event in their home. So many children who are abused emotionally, physically or sexually are desperate to know that true kindness exist in this world – and such children are in every neighborhood in America and in every neighborhood in the world. You can choose to make a difference in local children’s lives by becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, volunteering at local schools, youth groups and camps, and by modeling empathy and kindness. Your kindness may not change the world, but it can change one child’s world.