Jim Denison on Why Showing Kindness Like Tom Hanks is So Important in an Increasingly Violent World

I had planned to begin my article today by focusing on the kindness of Tom Hanks, whose portrayal of Fred Rogers will open in theaters this Friday. Then I opened my computer this morning to learn that another shooting was making headlines.

Fresno Police Lt. Bill Dooley described the tragedy: “This was a gathering, a family and friend gathering in the backyard. Everyone was watching football this evening when unknown suspects approached the residence, snuck into the backyard and opened fire.”

Ten people were shot and four died.

Tom Hanks “is just as nice as you think he is” 

The more that violence fills the news, the more we need examples to give us hope. That’s why Tom Hanks is such an important model for our culture.

Hanks’ movies have grossed nearly $10 billion worldwide. His portrayal of Fred Rogers will be at least his seventy-first film.

But Hanks is known at least as much for who he is in real life as for who he is on the movie screen. His powerful recent interview with the New York Times is subtitled: “Hanks is playing Mister Rogers in a new movie and is just as nice as you think he is.”

Here are some examples cited by the Times reporter: When Hanks was shooting Angels & Demons in Rome, a bride and her father couldn’t approach the chapel because of the film crew, so Hanks stopped filming and escorted them to the altar. He once bought some boxes of Girl Scout cookies, then offered selfies to passers-by as an enticement to buy. He found a woman’s student ID and used his Twitter feed to get it back to her. What do college students want most in a mate? 

Time magazine reports that researchers asked 2,700 college students to narrow down the characteristics that were most important to them in a lifetime mate, and one emerged from all cultures: kindness.

Kindness works for churches: Congregations in California are responding to the state’s housing crisis by sharing their parking lots with people who live in cars, providing mobile showers for the homeless, and exploring ways to build affordable apartments on their own land. One minister explained: “This is just one part of how we live out our faith.”

Kindness works for managers: according to Forbes, science now shows that it’s more productive to praise people for their successes than to correct their mistakes.

Kindness even works for popes: Pope Francis hosted 1,500 homeless and needy people for lunch yesterday as the Roman Catholic Church marked its World Day of the Poor. Last week, a mobile clinic was set up in St. Peter’s Square, where volunteer doctors gave free specialist health care to the poor.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison