Have you seen it? Have you seen the video from the marketing agency in Canada asking its citizens to tell America why it’s great? I thought it had to be a sham. My normally trusting nature became skeptical. Then I watched the video. I looked into the eyes of those Canadians, and I thought, “They like us! They really like us!”
Which brings up two questions I need to ponder. One, why does it matter? And two, can’t someone just do something nice? Does there always have to be an ulterior motive?
OK, so technically, I’m pondering three questions.
To answer the first one, “Why does it matter?,” I’d say it doesn’t. Just like in junior high, we don’t need people to like us. We can go about our day with our nose to the ground and a chip on our shoulder and survive just fine. But what a miserable existence. It’s way more fun to be surrounded by friends.
As to the second and third questions, well, I’m a little embarrassed that my initial reaction was to be cautious and distrustful of the whole “Tell America It’s Great” campaign. I’m the kindness lady! I love kindness! I believe in kindness! What has happened to me? Maybe the same thing has happened to you. We’re all just a little wary of anything that feels political these days.
The bottom line for me is this: If anyone anywhere thinks America is great, it’s because of you. It’s because of the actions of individual people. Individuals who build and design and fight for justice and act with kindness in their own neighborhoods are the ones who make up the cities and states and countries of which we can be proud.
It starts with just one person. Like the person who found a wallet and turned it in and made a huge impression on our north-of-the-border neighbor, Juliet, who just happened to be visiting from Canada. She was so touched that she sent me this letter, hoping to thank the anonymous do-gooder.
“On Aug. 15, a few family members and I drove down to Grand Forks for the day. When we were leaving, I was getting gas at the Holiday station on 32nd Avenue. It seems that I inadvertently put my wallet on the roof of my truck.
“When we were finished getting gas, I drove back in the direction of Dollar Tree looking for a mailbox. I cut through the parking lot by Old Navy. Somewhere by the Target/Best Buy stores, the wallet must have fallen off. I didn’t realize it until we got home to Winnipeg.
“I was beside myself for days. Somehow, in my heart, I thought someone who was down there from Winnipeg would find it, bring it back here and put it in our mailbox.
“But I got one better!
“Exactly two weeks later, we received a letter in the mail from the Grand Forks Police Department, saying that my wallet was turned in and the contents were itemized. The money, credit cards and my citizenship card were all there. I was ecstatic! It’s at least a 15-minute drive from where it was found to the police station. The fact that someone took the time to take it to the station, in tact, makes me want to cry for joy! Even as I’m typing this, I’m choking up.
“I wish I could send that person a card or somehow let them know just how deeply I appreciate their kindness. On Sept. 9, my husband and I drove down and picked up my wallet and had a great afternoon of shopping, dinner, an overnight stay and a smooth ride home.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that person. I’ve prayed repeatedly that God would hugely and abundantly bless them. Thank you for letting me share this with you! I’m so overwhelmed still!”
If Canadians think America is great, it’s because of people who do the right thing even when know one is watching. Based on Juliet’s letter and her determination to express her gratitude, I’d say Canadians are pretty great, too. Watch the Tell America it’s Great video and learn more about the kindness movement at www.tellamericaitsgreat.com.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.