Do The Kindness Roll
weekly meeting of the Better World Kids Team is now called
to order," Ahmed typed on his laptop.
Suddenly, and mysteriously, the Better World Kids appeared
together IN cyberspace. They still didn't know
why they were magically transported from their homes
all around the world each week, but they were sure glad
it happened. After they'd hugged, they looked around
excitedly at each other, wondering where this week's
adventure would bring them.
Erin, we're going to be having too much fun for you
to have time to catch up on your homework," José kidded
when he spotted the book tucked under Erin's arm.
Erin giggled in confusion and then remembered what she'd
brought. "Oh, no, this is a Kindness Journal
I wanted to show you all," she exclaimed.
that?" Jamal asked, and all the other Kids echoed his
Erin got really excited now. "We had this assembly at
school this week. It was really right up our alley.
You guys are going to love this!"
kind of alley is that," José giggled. "A bowling alley?
I do love to bowl…"
The Better World Kids rolled their eyes. José was always
Excitedly, Erin explained that the Season for Nonviolence
was coming up.
that have something to do with Mahatma Gandhi?" Sunanda
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?" Jamal added, a little questioningly
as he wasn't sure if he was remembering correctly.
Erin agreed. "The Season for Nonviolence honors the
memorial anniversaries of Gandhi and Dr. King. It also
honors other important nonviolent leaders like Cesar
Chavez and The Dalai Lama."
The Kids were really impressed. These were some of their
1998," Erin continued, "thousands of events and activities
have taken place in over 900 cities in 67 countries
during the 65 days between January 30 and April 4 …
all to bring communities together and raise awareness
about peace and nonviolence."
really cool," Michiko noted, "but… what does it have
to do with your Kindness Journal?"
as we all know, 'showing kindness' is a great way to
put peace and nonviolence into practice," Erin reminded
them, and everyone nodded. "My school is taking part
in the Season For Nonviolence during the Season
for Nonviolence. Each day during the Season we're supposed
to perform an act of kindness and write it down in our
right, that is right up our alley… Kindness Alley!"
Ling laughed, looking over at José, and all the other
what's that on your wrist, Erin?" Sol asked pointing
at her green bracelet.
yeah, I forgot," Erin smiled. "We got these at the assembly,
too. It says 'My Kindness Feeds Others.'"
I like that expression," Maya said and the other Kids
nodded in agreement.
that's good, because I brought bracelets for all of
us," Erin told them. Reaching into her pocket she pulled
out a bag of them.
guys," Ahmed said as he paused from taking notes on
his laptop and slipped his bracelet on. "I almost forgot,
I have something to share, too."
What is this with all the presents today," José exclaimed.
"It's not my birthday!"
not exactly a gift," Ahmed admitted. "It's something
I learned. Do you guys know 'The Kindness Sign?"
it like the peace sign?" Johnny asked, holding
up two fingers.
like this," Ahmed said, showing them as he rolled his
hands over each other.
Let's all do 'The Kindness Roll!' José laughed as he
and all the other kids tried to copy Ahmed.
we're doing the 'sign for kindness' in sign language,"
Ling pointed out.
Ahmed said. "That's what I meant. It sure makes a cool
way to greet each other, doesn't it!"
The Kids agreed and had some more fun 'doing the kindness
roll' as José put it.
that was cool," Sol said after a while, "but what Cyberjourney
are we going on today, Ahmed?" he asked.
Ahmed was the Better World Kids Team secretary and usually
by now a hyperlink would have appeared on his laptop,
giving the Kids a clue about where their adventure would
take them. But the cursor just blinked nonchalantly
on their Better World Kids Team URL. He was just about to
say so when the Kids heard a familiar humming tune drifting
through the hazy Cyberspace all around them.
They turned to look, and sure enough they began to see Harmony the Spirit of Kindness, their favorite Cyberguide
walking towards them.
A Season for Nonviolence
back," Harmony said in her sing-song voice as the Kids
rushed forward to hug her. She wrapped them in her arms
and held them tightly.
Erin showed her the Kindness Journal and The Kids proudly
displayed their 'My Kindness Feeds Others' bracelets. Harmony smiled when they shared the Kindness Sign with
you going to lead us on an adventure to find out more
about the Season For Nonviolence during the Season for
Nonviolence?" Michiko asked, and all the Kids stared
excitedly with wide eyes waiting for her answer.
I am," she said and her eyes twinkled. "And I've got
a surprise," she added. "A very special friend of ours
is going to take us on our adventure."
The Kids couldn't help but show their excitement. The
only thing they loved as much as their favorite Cyberguide
was when she brought them visitors to accompany them
on their adventures.
she comes now," Harmony said softly. The Kids looked
around them but didn't see anything except cyberhaze.
Harmony pointed upwards and all the Kids looked up into
the Cybersky. A tiny speck soared closer until they
could just about make out who it was.
they all cried out as a giant eagle hovered above them
and joyously sang out its flight call in greeting.
Liberty landed gently near them, and all the Kids ran
forward to tell her how glad they were to see her again.
we'd better be on our way," Harmony said, and they all
climbed onto Liberty's back. After they'd made themselves
comfortable, Liberty raised her wings, flapping them
rapidly, and they began to rise off the ground.
would you give Liberty the web coordinates on your laptop…" Harmony asked as they soared up into the cyberhaze.
Ahmed leaned forward and read them aloud above the roar
of the wind all around them.
Faster and faster they soared, right into the hyperlink.
Before they could even blink they saw that they were
high up above the clouds in a blue, blue winter sky.
They flew for a while, gliding across countries and
continents, until down below the Kids saw one of their
look there's the United Nations down there…" Maya said,
as she was the first to spot the UN Headquarters building
in New York City.
on," Harmony sang, "we're about to land at our first
Liberty leaned forward and rocketed down, right towards
the United Nations' Visitor's Entrance. They rushed
past the long line of disbelieving visitors, and jetted
past the VIP's.
The guards at the security check point looked up and
smiled as they saw Liberty approaching and waved her
on. Liberty folded her wings around Harmony and the
Kids, and they sailed right through the metal detector
gate. The guards waved as they glided past, and went
back to checking bags as if nothing unusual had happened;
Liberty was after all a frequent visitor at the UN.
Liberty glided through the maze of hallways until they
reached a large lobby.
The guard who stood in front of a row of doors stared
with his mouth hanging open as Liberty landed in front
of him. Today was his first day and no one had told
him that anything like this might happen.
The Kids climbed down and walked towards the guard,
pointing to the badges that had miraculously appeared
on their shirts.
okay… Go on in," the guard stammered as the badges clearly
stated that they were there for the special Season for
will wait out here in the lobby for us…" Harmony said
to the guard. "If that's okay?" she added.
uh…" the guard stammered. He tried to visualize the
training manual in his head. He remembered something
about seeing-eye-dogs, but he was pretty sure there
wasn't anything about giant eagles.
The guard looked up again at Liberty. She looked back,
guess so," he squeaked, and held the door open for Harmony
and the Kids to step inside.
As the Kids walked in they recognized that they were
in the balcony of the United Nations General Assembly
Hall, and as they looked below they saw it was a packed
house. On the stage below someone was speaking.
José was just about to say something funny he'd thought
of but the guard standing inside looked sternly at the
Kids and put his finger to his lips and whispered, "Shhh…"
before José had a chance to speak. He pointed at a few
empty seats and Harmony and the Kids walked quietly
As they sat down they heard the speaker talking about
Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and how both were "leaders
of awesome stature."
back in the year 1998. That's the Reverend Jesse Jackson," Harmony whispered ever so softly, so that only the Kids
could hear her.
Down below, Jesse Jackson was sharing one of his favorite
Martin Luther King quotes that summed up the character
of this great leader who had been his friend. "Moral
leaders of substance don't follow opinion polls, they
mold opinion. Not with their guns, or dollars or position,
but with the power of their souls.''
The crowd applauded as Reverend Jackson finished his
speech. "That's Yolanda King, Martin Luther King's daughter,"
Harmony said pointing to one of the people sitting on
the stage. "And this man who's getting up now to speak
is Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's grandson."
The Kids listened intently as Arun spoke about his memories
of Grandfather, and why he and his wife Sunanda and
the Association for Global New Thought launched the
Season for Nonviolence. He offered his hopes about how
this campaign would be an ongoing yearly opportunity
to spread the teachings of these two great men.
shared the same dream, that if we make an attempt, we
can achieve a world where peace and harmony can prevail,"
Gandhi's grandson said. "They dreamed that there would
be a time when we would not look upon ourselves or identify
ourselves by the color of our skin or the race that
we belong to,'' he went on. Arun continued speaking
and when he had finished the audience rose in a standing
The Kids could feel the energy and the excitement and
the hope all around them. They knew this launch would
be only the beginning of something wonderful that would
inspire many people all around the world for many years
simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than
a thousand heads bowing in prayer," a voice boomed out
as the applause quieted down.
guys," Ahmed gasped as he realized the voice was coming
from the laptop on his lap.
is a muscle that gets stronger with use," the voice
said even more loudly. It was so loud that everyone
in the balcony had heard it and they were all staring
at Ahmed. Including the guard, and he didn't look very
must be the change you wish to see in the world," the
same voice continued through the laptop.
Now the Kids knew who the voice belonged to, because
they recognized that famous quote. "I think a hyperlink
is about to take us to the next chapter in our adventure…"
Ahmed whispered nervously as he looked up from the blinking
cursor on his laptop to see the guard storming toward
The Kids started to get really excited because they
had a pretty good idea that the next stop in their cyber-Adventure
was going to bring them to meet one of their most favorite
heroes ever, Mohandas K. Gandhi! They turned and saw
the guard approaching and hoped they'd be leaving soon.
Like immediately. Fortunately they felt that tingly
feeling they always got when they were about to cyber-jump.
about Liberty?" Ling asked as they prepared to be cyber-transported.
catch up to us," Harmony smiled as the guard reached
their aisle and discovered to his surprise that they
had all disappeared. He blinked a few times in dismay
and started mumbling incoherently to himself. "Shhh…"
the people in the audience around him whispered.
A Walk With Grandfather
the Kids sped along the hyperlink, they expected, or
at least hoped to materialize someplace exciting. Perhaps
they'd join Gandhi and his followers in a peaceful protest,
facing the entire British army. Or they'd walk amongst
the joyous crowds that gathered to hear Gandhi, the
leader of a new nation, speak after the Indian people
had finally gained their independence. Or…
Instead, the Kids found themselves standing on the side
of a rather ordinary looking hill. Below them a dusty
dirt road wound around the bend. It looked completely
deserted. The only sound they heard at all was a bird
chirping in the distance.
long and winding road…" José sang to himself as the
Kids looked around.
they mumbled as they stared at each other wondering
why they'd ended up here. They were just about to ask Harmony that very question when they all noticed two
figures coming around the bend.
There was no mistaking the older one walking slowly
with a long, thin, wooden walking stick. Everyone recognized
him immediately; it was Mahatma Gandhi! Walking beside
him was a twelve year old boy who listened intently
while the older man spoke.
you guess who the boy is?" Harmony asked the children.
it the person we saw at the UN who thought of starting
the Season For Nonviolence …?" Maya asked.
grandson, Arun?" Sunanda added.
is indeed," Harmony said. "He has just come to stay
with his grandparents for a few years. His parents sent
him here because Arun was having a difficult time back
at home in South Africa."
it because there was a lot of prejudice there back then?"
right," Harmony agreed. "Arun was often picked on, simply
because he was an Indian. He was even beaten up several
looks pretty strong," Johnny noted.
"Yes," Harmony said. "He spent a lot of time working out and
learning to defend himself. He felt like he was always
angry because of the way things were. His parents thought
it would be best for their young son to spend time with
his grandfather and learn firsthand about the principles
of nonviolence, so that he could learn how to deal with
As the two figures grew closer, the Kids could just
about hear Gandhi explaining about how to practice nonviolence.
He told his grandson that even though it is important
to learn how to resolve conflicts peacefully, the most
important thing is to learn how to avoid conflicts in
the first place. We do this, he told him, by creating
an atmosphere where we don't have as many conflicts.
Then he told Arun that this is why personal transformation
is so important.
transformation," Ling whispered, "that's what he's talking
about in that 'be the change you wish to see in the
the other Kids agreed, and Harmony nodded with a smile.
Gandhi's conversation grew easier to hear as the two
approached. They heard him telling his grandson that
anger is like electricity. He told him that it can be
just as useful and just as powerful, but only if we
use it intelligently. He warned Arun that anger can
also be just as deadly and destructive if we abuse it.
The secret, he explained, is to learn to channel anger
in the same way we channel electricity, and use that
energy for the good of humanity.
Michiko sighed, "I never heard it described like that
really makes a lot of sense," Maya agreed.
look at that," Ahmed pointed. "Arun is carrying a notebook…"
Erin," Johnny said in surprise, "it looks just like
your Kindness Journal!"
"Actually," Harmony told them, "it's an 'Anger Journal.' Arun's
grandfather asked him to stop whenever he got angry,
and instead of acting on his anger, to write it down
in his journal."
that just get him angry again later when he re-read
his journal?" Sol asked.
"Well," Harmony explained, "in addition to writing down why
he was angry, Arun was also supposed to write down ideas
about how to solve the problem that made him
angry. Then he'd have a constructive way to fix the
The Kids were just about to tell Harmony that they thought
an Anger Journal was a great idea, when José burst out,
"Guys there's a herd of elephants stampeding this way,
and they're about to trample Arun and his grandfather!"
At first none of the Kids believed José; he was such
a kidder. But when they looked down below, they saw
that a herd of elephants was exactly what was barreling
down the road behind Gandhi and his grandson.
The Kids quickly rushed down the hill, waving and yelling
"Look out!" to the two figures below. But the old man
and his grandson were so caught up in their discussion
that neither of them seemed to notice the Kids calling
them, nor the now thundering sound of the stampeding
elephants right behind them.
A Noble Nobel Achievement
Kids reached the road at just the exact same time as
Gandhi and his grandson and the elephant stampede. The
air was covered in a cloud of dirt and dust and none
of the Kids could see a thing. Everyone gasped and held
When the dust finally settled, they saw Harmony laughing
and fondly patting the leader of the elephant herd on
the head. The other elephants stood quietly on either
side. It almost looked like they were smiling.
Quickly the Kids turned around and saw Gandhi and his
grandson quietly continuing down the other end of the
road, still deeply involved in their conversation, and
completely unaware of what had almost happened to them.
Just as they were about to disappear around the bend,
Mahatma Gandhi turned his head back and smiled at the
Kids. He winked and then the two figures were gone.
you all wanna go for a ride," a deep voice thundered.
The Kids turned around. "Maybe have a race?" the elephant
Even though they knew that strange things happened all
the time on their cyber-Adventures, the Kids were a
little surprised to hear the elephant speak.
on!" the other elephants urged.
we?" Johnny asked, turning to Harmony. He'd always wanted
to ride an elephant. The other Kids looked just as eager.
why not," Harmony laughed and she climbed up on the
leader. "Let's race to the next hyperlink," she said,
and each of the Kids found an elephant eager for a jockey
in the race.
your marks…" the elephant leader bellowed.
set…" he continued.
he roared and they were off, thundering down the road.
Being in an elephant race was more fun than riding a
thrilling roller coaster and just as loud, with all
the gasps and laughs and excited yells.
They were all neck and neck as they approached the finish
line erected right before the hyperlink at the end of
the road. Then out of the blue, Liberty swooped down
and joined the line of racing elephants.
With a final burst of speed they all crossed the finish
line in a photo-finish finale.
won?" the Kids laughed as they each hugged their trusty
elephant and were lowered to the ground by a helpful
sure was close, but I think Liberty won by a beak," Harmony laughed.
I was just going to say that," José insisted.
They were hugging their elephant friends good bye, when
Erin said with a gasp, "Hey, look, the hyperlink is
Sure enough, it had started floating up into the sky.
As it drifted into the distance, the Kids heard a dynamic
voice calling out to them. "At the center of non-violence
stands the principle of love," the voice said. "Love
is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into
a friend," it continued.
Although they might not have remembered who had said
those quotes, they all recognized the famous voice immediately.
It was Dr. Martin Luther King's voice coming from that
Their giant eagle friend motioned for everyone to climb
aboard. "Liberty," Harmony said when they were all settled
in, "follow that hyperlink!"
Off they sped in hot pursuit. They gained ground quickly,
but just before they reached the hyperlink, Sunanda
noticed a familiar figure down below. "We're still in
India," she said. "So, what's Martin Luther King doing
King came to India in 1959 to study Gandhi's philosophy
of nonviolence," Harmony told her. "Now hold on tight,"
she said as they plunged into the hyperlink.
In a flash they sped through cyberspace and burst out
into a cloudy sky over Atlanta, Georgia in 1960. Down
below they saw Dr. King and some others being taken
away from a restaurant in handcuffs.
did they do wrong?" Ling asked. "Why are they being
Luther King was arrested many times when he stood up
to unfair laws," Harmony said as Liberty glided above
the line of police cars that sped toward the jailhouse.
"All he did was sit down in a 'White Only' section in
a restaurant," she explained. "Earlier that year 'lunch
counter sit-ins' began all across the deep south to
protest segregation -- the idea that people of color
weren't allowed to mix with white people in restaurants
or on buses, or even use the same water fountains."
The Kids couldn't believe that things had ever been
wish we had our elephant friends here," José said as
they watched Dr. King and the others being taken into
the jail. "We could knock the jailhouse walls down and
bust them out of there!"
be out soon," Harmony told them. "Until the next protest,
that is…" she sighed. "We're seeing the very heart of
the civil rights movement unfolding here," she told
the children as they sailed past the jailhouse towards
the distant horizon. "A lot of people made a lot of
sacrifices to bring about change," she said.
they made a difference, right?" Michiko asked.
acts of kindness absolutely made a difference!" Harmony
exclaimed. "The movement grew and grew as more people
got involved and stood up for what was right by practicing
nonviolence … Look down there. We're flying over Detroit
in June, 1963."
the Kids exclaimed; there were a lot of people marching
through the streets, with Martin Luther King proudly
leading the way. The line seemed endless.
hundred and twenty-five thousand people marched in this
Freedom Walk!" Harmony told them.
a lot of people!" Maya declared. It took a while for
Liberty to reach the end of the long line of black and
white and young and old freedom marchers.
ain't seen nothing yet!" José piped in. He remembered
learning about an important event that would happen
just a few months later in that very same year.
right," Harmony laughed. "Look over there."
The Kids strained to see. Up ahead they could just about
make out some familiar landmarks in Washington DC.
approaching August 28, 1963," Harmony told them as they
grew closer. "Two hundred and fifty thousand people
came together for the March on Washington… it was the
largest civil rights demonstration in history!"
have a dream…" Martin Luther King's voice echoed. And
then the Kids clearly saw the Lincoln Memorial and more
people than they could ever have imagined sprawled out
over the National Mall.
one day this nation will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,'" MLK was saying. The
words were electrifying.
Liberty sailed over the crowd and the Kids' mouths fell
open when they were sure they saw Dr. King wave to them.
They continued on until they reached the White House.
Liberty perched on the window sill and they all peered
inside. Martin Luther King was standing behind President
Lyndon Johnson as he sat at a table surrounded by a
room filled with lots of important people. Television
news cameras were recording every moment.
is July 2nd, 1964," Harmony said quietly. "The President
is about to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 … it's
a major achievement and milestone for equal rights.
Dr. King's dream is coming true!"
As the President signed the document, Martin Luther
King looked up to see the Kids. He smiled at them before
he turned back to congratulate the President.
"Ahmed," Harmony said softly. "Would you click the next hyperlink.
I think we should give Liberty a little breather. We've
covered a lot of ground and have a bit more to see before
our adventure's over."
Ahmed said and pressed ENTER on his keyboard. In the
blink of an eye they were whooshed thousands of miles
across the Atlantic Ocean.
The Kids found themselves gazing up at the stage in
a fancy hall in Oslo, Norway, where Martin Luther King
was receiving an important prize.
December 10, 1964, just a few months after the signing
of the Civil Rights Act, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize," Harmony whispered. He was the youngest
person ever to receive it!"
As Dr. King stepped into the audience where the important
dignitaries waited to congratulate him, he spotted The
Better World Kids and smiled. Then he winked before the
crowds surrounded him.
Liberty was whistling to them from out in the lobby;
they had a lot of things left to see. So they made their
way through the crowd and set off once again.
So Many Ways To Show Kindness
was pretty obvious why Harmony had wanted Liberty to
rest up on the previous hyperlink jump. She had a lot
of flying to do on the last leg of their journey!
Although only a few minutes passed by in the real world
during this last chapter of their adventure, Liberty
brought the Better World Kids to hundreds of cities and
towns all around the world wide web and back and forth
through cybertime. The Kids got to take part in lots
and lots of activities and events that had occurred
during the Season for Nonviolence over the years.
As they traveled, each of them had a favorite in mind
that they thought they would help to bring to their
communities, places of worship or schools, back in the
Michiko's favorite community-building activities were
the Peace Pole and Peace Tree planting ceremonies that
brought communities together at schools and parks and
churches, temples, synagogues and mosques. The ceremonies
made everyone feel really connected. Then after they
were over, there was a lasting monument to inspire people
for many years to come.
Maya loved the Peace Concerts. She thought that music
was the most universal language to bring people together
and see past their differences.
Jamal thought that service projects were the best way
to show how acts of kindness could make a difference
in people's lives. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, or
collecting canned goods for a food bank; visiting the
elderly in nursing homes or children in the hospital;
participating in a community clean-up day or being a
mentor …there are just so many different ways to get
involved in helping out in your community!
Erin was a bit of a fitness fanatic. She liked the Walkathons
and Peace Runs to commemorate those who choose nonviolent
action as a way to bring about a better world.
José thought that talking things over was the best way
to get things out in the open. That's why he loved the
Town Hall Discussions and Peace & Nonviolence Dialogue
Days, where communities got together and talked about
kindness, peace and nonviolence and how these principles
could be applied to the problems in their communities.
Of course, adding a little humor to the conversation
always helped, too.
Ling thought that potluck picnics honoring local heroes
and people who made a difference in their communities
was the best way to go.
Johnny liked the Teach-Ins, lectures and workshops in
schools and places of worship that taught young and
old specific tools to put nonviolence and conflict resolution
into practice in our daily lives.
Sunanda thought the candlelight vigils were the most
inspiring ways to bring communities together to think
about kindness and peace.
Ahmed's favorite was the Children's Peace and Kindness
Art Festivals. He couldn't believe how beautiful young
people's visions of a better world were everywhere they
Sol loved to read, and he found the Book Study circles
talking about books on the theme of kindness, peace
and nonviolence were the most rewarding. He also planned
to help organize a storytelling circle for younger kids,
too. But then again, he also loved movies, and thought
maybe he should help organize a Better World Movie Festival,
showing inspiring movies that would make people want
to get involved in creating a better world.
There were just so many different ways to take action,
that by the time they were done, the Kids knew they'd
have lots of choices to share with their friends and
families to see what they wanted to do to get involved
with the Season For Nonviolence.
we choose," Ling started to say as the Kids began to
feel that tingly feeling they got when their meeting
was nearly done and it was getting time to go back to
their homes all around the world. "Let's at least get
people to do an act of kindness every day for the Season For Nonviolence ..."
Everyone agreed as they hugged each other. "Yeah," Jamal
said. "Once people get into the 'habit' they'll see
how rewarding it is to help others all year long…"
they'll see that helping others is the best way to feel
good about ourselves, too," Sunanda added.
Harmony smiled at them proudly, and waved goodbye as
Ahmed adjourned the weekly meeting of the Better World Kids
For more information about the
Season For Nonviolence:
Season For Nonviolence
A Better World Kids Adventure
© 2013-2014 Robert Alan Silverstein
2014 Vineet Siddhartha