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There Are No Small Things
By Michael Angier

In a recent airing of “Unsolved Mysteries” there was a story of a young boy who was the victim of the holocaust. He’d been placed in a work camp for several years and somehow had managed to survive the horror of his imprisonment.

The story was of a boy—now in his sixties—and his quest to find an American GI who had imparted a kindness to him. The soldier had given the boy some food.

It might seem insignificant, but to this child, who had seen nothing but cruelty and inhumanity for as long as he could remember, it was a gesture that marked a turning point in his life.

When he was liberated by the American forces, he was dying. He needed food. As he was hobbling along the road, a young GI jumped down from his tank and offered him some of his rations.

Unbeknownst to the soldier, the boy had lost hope. He was afraid. He didn't beg for food because he couldn't even conceive the idea that someone would give him some.

With this one act of generosity, a kind and magnanimous American had rekindled a belief that there really was some good in the world.

And the boy never forgot it.

The boy later went to America, raised a family, became successful and worked hard to repay the kindness he had received with kindnesses of his own.

Now, he wanted to find the man who had, in his words, "Saved my life."

I hope he found him. But I’d like to believe that there were so many similar acts of generosity that it would be almost impossible to know for sure who the soldier was.

You see we never know when something we say or do will have a profound influence on another’s life.

It’s common to think we can’t make a difference. And it’s sad that most people don’t ever recognize what an important role they play—or COULD play. Unlike George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” most of us never get to see how things would be if we weren’t here doing what we do.

When I speak to groups, I’m aware of the challenges my listeners may be facing. You never know what someone is going through. It might be a divorce. They may have just learned a loved one is dying. They may be afraid of losing their job. Perhaps they don't even HAVE a job.

I must be mindful that a thoughtless comment or playful tease could in fact be hurtful. We all have a choice: to create more light or to generate more heat in the world. As Confucius put it over 2500 years ago, “It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.”

As the story above so nicely illustrates, small gestures can often generate huge blessings. If we’re constantly looking for and doing kind and thoughtful acts, we will no doubt bring more joy into the world around us as well as into our own world.

I call it the Law of Reciprocity: The more you do to enhance the lives of others, the more you enhance your own being. It’s one of life’s better deals.

Robert Brault may have said it best when he wrote, “Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize that they were the big things."

What kindness can you show today? What generous act can you perform? What kind words will you offer someone? What good deed are you willing to invest in the world?

Do some small things today, but do them in great ways and you will assuredly create great blessings.

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