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March 13th, 2015


I recently heard a story which brought tears to my eyes and filled me with inspiration. Maybe you have already heard of the “Dancing Man” but essentially there was a human being (who happens to be overweight) who was dancing at a concert. Another human being started teasing the dancing man (from what I understand because of how he danced, and how he looked), inevitably shaming him to stop dancing. The bully then showed the world what an absolute dick he was by posting this mean, heart-wrenching photo:

I read an article about the situation which not only criticized the bully, but also humorously promoted the right to dance, saying “A great many men decline to dance, because they think they will look like fools. They do not realize that they already look like fools, because they squandered an opportunity to dance.”

It turns out, somewhere, somehow, a group of extremely compassionate and open-hearted women heard about this situation and organized a campaign to find this man, and then fly him out for a dance party which would celebrate people dancing however they felt; encouraging fun over appearance. I was extremely inspired by this! So random, so generous, so fun, so compassionate! And so random. I love that it was completely unsolicited, and just a genuine campaign to just “do something nice”.

Back in grade school I used to get so upset watching a bully pick on someone. To this day I am stunned by how viscous, heartless, cruel, and relentless all human beings can be (myself included… I can distinctly remember joining in at times, and I can also remember the humiliation and pain of being picked on). Simply going out of one’s way to stand up to a bully, to defend the persecuted, to promote kindness in an atmosphere of aggression: these things are pure and good!

But the story of the Dancing Man went a bit farther, because it really reminded me of how miraculous life can feel when one decides to do irrational acts of kindness: it is one of the most thrilling and rewarding ways to spend one’s time. I remember back in college my friends and I used to go out through the neighborhood on Sunday morning (after dancing all night at a warehouse somewhere in San Francisco) and find houses which had been vandalized by toilet paper (a mischievous activity I’m guilty of engaging in once or twice when I was very young) and spontaneously cleaning up the mess, then leaving a kind note for the household to wake up to. Or we would go to a convalescent home and visit with the elderly, or identify someone around town who seemed to need a friend and reach out to them. It was just fun to do, and it felt good to do it.

When I saw the movie “Amelie” I felt a similar bolt of enthusiasm (if you haven’t seen this movie, watch it – it is MOST EXCELLENT) …essentially a fairy tale about a girl who mischievously engages in random acts of kindness: intricate campaigns designed to share magic and delight with the unsuspecting human beings around her.

The story of the dancing man makes me hope many more people out there get inspired to not only stand up against bullying, but take the next step to reach out and make new friends, do random acts of kindness for other people, remember how beautiful life can be, and how easy it is to do something kind for someone else.

It goes a long way.