See Something, Say Something: Vigilance and Kindness

See Something, Say Something

Have you seen any of the “See Something, Say Something” signs that have proliferated in public spaces since 9/11?

These signs are posted in subway stops and train stations and a host of other public places.

Reporting the BAD…

I understand the MTA’s request.

If I see something that looks strange or puzzling and might be dangerous, I shouldn’t just walk by and forget it. Instead, I should report it to 911 or tell an official nearby.

911?  Hello? I’m reporting a suitcase sitting by itself in the 125th Street subway stop on the Green line.  It’s just sitting there, by itself, looking a bit forlorn. I don’t know, but perhaps there’s a bomb in it.

Those signs are reminders of the fact that we live in a dangerous world where suitcase bombs really do show up and if left to their own devises, they really can kill people.

But every time I see a “See something, say something” sign, I have a different reaction.

Reporting the GOOD…

What if instead of reporting on bad things, we reported on the good ones.

Imagine this…

Hello, 911? I thought you might want to know that a young man on the 6 line just helped a woman carry her baby’s stroller up the 50 stairs toward the street.

Or this…

911? I’d like to report that this morning at Saint Mary’s Park, two people were picking up the litter.

Or how about this…

911? Several people smiled at me on the subway last night. One of them offered me his seat. Another offered to carry my suitcase up the stairs and then thanked me for letting him help.

And finally, this…

“911?  Yes, this Andrea again. I saw something good and I’m saying something!

The Glue that Makes us Good

The glue in our society comes not from being afraid and reporting on the bad things (though, of course, we should do that). The glue comes from all of the many times we come together in small ways to help one another.

The nods and smiles and offering of seats.

The encouragement and support and acts of random kindness people do create a sense of collective support and good will that undergirds our ability to live together.

Here in New York City, where most people aren’t isolated in their cars, people practice these small acts over and over again in a day. We are and must be vigilant when it comes to bombs and terrorism.  But that’s not the glue that makes this city work.

It’s the every day acts of kindness.

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See Something, Say Something… Good!

Rather than looking for things that might go wrong, this week, try looking for and commenting on the many small gestures and helpful acts that connect you to others. Then comment on them. Let people know you notice and that their kindness or gesture makes a difference. And while you are at it, you might try out a few random acts of kindness yourself!

Share your ideas in the comments below. Or, head on over to Facebook and share your ideas there.