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Acknowledging goodness

Opinion

Acknowledging goodness

Jane Stephens encourages us to look around and see the best of humanity and random acts of kindness taking place everywhere.

Many are the mentions of humanity going to hell in a handbasket. Road ragers, price gougers and young people gone bad steal the limelight and crowd centre stage.

Fewer are the acknowledgements of the acts of goodness done. Perhaps they are too quiet, too gentle in cacophony of daily life to often be noticed. But on the Sunshine Coast recently, they abounded: not so much random acts of kindness as the best of humanity, quietly writ large.

The community noticeboard pages on social media – places where human gold crouches modestly among the goods and service exchanges – heaved with them.

There was a man who found a DeWalt toolbox on Hunchy Road and posted about it on the Sunshine Coast Community Board. A Sunshine Beach High School student called Max who found a phone (and cards and cash) on the 626 bus and located the distressed owner by posting about it on the Noosa Community Notice Board. Lost rings. Found pets. Solutions sought by sharing. Good people connected together.

I recently took part in the Mooloolaba Triathlon, where 5000 or so entrants were executing the final act of their personal physical challenge after months of training. The weather and conditions made it tough, and behind the statistics were some amazing human stories.

Eric Cook, aged 81, who completed the course faster than many half his age; the para athletes who worked around their disabilities to swim, ride and run with breathtaking strength and courage.

The fit 50-something athlete at the swim start next to me, who had a pacemaker inserted just six weeks earlier after her heart stopped. Her starting line nerves shadowed a lionheart, and her gratitude at simply being alive was palpable. The volunteers breathe life and give form to this and other events such as the Disabled Surfers days and Sunshine Coast Marathon. No volunteers, no event. Their encouragement and help on the day are priceless.

As I got on a 615 bus to go home from work the other day, I was greeted by possibly the sunniest driver on the planet.

“Good afternoon!” he beamed. “Hope you’ve had a great day.” He greeted every passenger this way. Simple kindness. Warm connections. They are enough to make the hardest heart feel glad.

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Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

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