Kindness and Change by Todd Rutherford

Gary Beene’s The Seeds We Sow: Kindness That Fed a Hungry World offers an important message for readers, reminding them not to allow kindness to die in a world that of late favors self-centeredness and unkindness. The absence of kindness is most artfully portrayed in Beene’s personal message, relaying his sadness not only in the passing of Norman Borlaug, but also in the fact that in the same newspaper, a disturbingly violent piece was published, illustrating that the void of kindness left by Borlaug was filled not with redoubled efforts to replace kindness in his wake, but with hostility.

The Seeds We Sow chronicles the “butterfly effect” of kindness, as it flowed from person to person and from generation to generation, through a specific example, that what began with a simple act of kindness resulted in saving 2 billion people from starvation. In the same issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican that brought Gary Beene the tragic news of the esteemed Nobel Laureate, there was an article detailing the hostile protests in Washington, D.C. with signs that carried “unkind and thinly veiled threats against the government, the nation, and the president,” including a sign with a picture of a AR-15 assault rifle with the caption, “We came unarmed from Montana and Utah . . . this time!” Rather than letting altruism die with Norman Borlaug, we must use his life to inspire us to treat others with compassion and to create our own butterfly effect of kindness.

Beene details how disturbing he found it that politically “muddled” rhetoric only fueled the fires and emotions of the protests, encouraging their hostility by decrying the government as alternately “socialist” and “fascist.” The world is filled with such examples, as we witness disturbingly violent protests in places like Yemen and Libya, and clearly drawn political lines in our own nation, with politicians and leaders fueling the partisan disparities, bitterness, and anger, searching for scapegoats for the state of the economy and the nation. We live in a world where we are bombarded with anger and violence through the media and in our daily lives-such that we must search to find any traces of kindness and acceptance.

The Seeds We Sow is intended to teach by example the butterfly effects of kindness and how a simple kind act can have profound effects as it goes forth touching and shaping others. This book illustrates through historical examples and profiles, the power of the simplest kind words and actions to actually influence history, encouraging readers to model their lives after those of George Washington Carver, Henry Wallace, and Norman Borlaug.

Through his important reminder, we can infer that the anger and bitterness that pervade our national discourse will only serve to plunge us deeper into despair and crisis. By replacing these actions with kind actions, we could essentially effect the change that the nation is clamoring for, and ultimately restore America to greatness. Gary Beene’s work is significant, using history to positively influence the present and the future, creating the Kindness Movement’s parallel to Profiles in Courage, by depicting Profiles in Kindness.

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