Have you heard of Bob Votruba and his Boston Terrier, Bogart? No? I hadn’t either until I came across a link to their website, http://www.onemillionactsofkindness.com/about/. Bob and Bogart are traveling the country in a 1990 Chevy, refurbished bus Bob bought online. They are going from state to state, college campus to elementary school, for the next ten years. The message Bob wants to share is about something that we all need, but few experience on a regular basis. Kindness.
Bob sums up his mission statement on his web page beautifully, “We are trying to offer inspiration to those wanting to better themselves by leading a lifetime of constantly spreading kindness to others. Our goal is to reach out to children, teens, and young adults when their minds are open and their personalities are developing. We hope to teach them kindness, empathy and a generosity for others. By living in kindness they will discover the happiness that they can bring to those around them, and ultimately to themselves as well. It is crucial to recognize the importance of being kind to others; adults and teenagers can set the example for young children to emulate. Nothing could be more important in the world than this. If you hear something often enough, you start to believe it. The world today so often adversely affects children. Some of them may even start to believe they are part of a deteriorating culture awash with greed, mass consumerism, and low self esteem…..they are not! We need to remind the younger generation that they are good and let them know they are part of something new, something bright, something bold… a beginning. They are the start of a new generation, they need to start believing they are part of THE KINDNESS GENERATION!“
I love the sound of that, the kindness generation. Following the Boomers, the Me generation, and the Gen Xers, the kindness generation is a breath of fresh air. I think we are missing the boat with our younger students, focusing on academics to the detriment of social skills and empathy. They are working on fractions in Kindergarten for Pete’s sake!! What about please and thank you? Comforting a friend when they are sad? Holding the door open for your teacher? I want my children’s legacy to be about more than SAT scores and AP classes. I want people to be reminded of all that is hope and possibility when they look at the generation coming up. Bob Votruba’s beliefs helped him raise three of his own children and his moral compass is firmly fixed on passing on the importance of kindness beyond his own door, all the way across America in a hand-painted, Craig’s List bus. Kindness and compassion cost nothing, but Bob’s investment in the future of our kids is priceless.