Most of us remember Aesop for his fabled fables, with morals that taught us life lessons that extended well beyond our collective childhoods.
In one of his most memorable teachings, Aesop told the tale of “The Lion and the Mouse,” in which a mouse was caught by a larger and more powerful lion while scurrying across his visage. The mouse begged for mercy, and the lion spared the mouse’s life with a bit of scorn, confidently and condescendingly declaring that his mercy would never be reciprocated. Of course, we all know the rest of the story. Later on, the lion was caught in a snare, bound by ropes and trapped, awaiting a certain death. As he cried out in desperation, that same mouse, recognizing his roar, scampered back to his friend and gnawed the lion free, repaying and returning the merciful act.
Aesop’s moral was, of course, that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Over many centuries, these words have been repeated millions—perhaps billions—of times and provided as a tenet of good living.
And, of course, Aesop was right.
His lesson continues to teach us every day. In a video that has gone locally viral, Falmouth educator, director, producer, and videographer extraordinaire Brian Switzer partners with dozens of local students to bring Aesop’s lesson alive in Falmouth.
In a video titled “Ride the Wave of Kindness,” students tell a story through Brian’s gifted lens of a young lady who comes to a new school, shy, tentative, and dressed differently than her new classmates. The interactions are initially tense and hurtful, as a group of young women, rather than welcoming her with kind words, instead offer taunts and teasing about her appearance. The young lady withdraws and appears to be another unfortunate victim of bullying.
Here’s where Aesop’s fable comes in. A classmate, remembering the moral of “The Lion and the Mouse,” offers a simple act of kindness and gives the new classmate a pencil. That’s it. It’s that simple. The video then crescendos in a wave of goodwill—demonstrating that one good deed, in fact, can result in a wave of kindness when it spreads.
The video shows what’s right with Falmouth—and what’s right with young people in our community today. Inspired by the uniquely Falmouth ‘No Guff’ tradition, which has taught and inspired a generation of young Falmouthites to eschew bullying and embrace kindness, this snapshot of the power of kindness is a welcome respite from the bad vibes and nastiness in our national discourse.
So, that got me thinking. What if we all watched Brian’s video and remembered Aesop’s centuries-old lesson? What if adults in our community began to ride the wave of kindness as well? What if we adopted the simple plan of that pencil-giving student and found one simple act of kindness each day? It’s not a new concept, but an important and timely one. It’s time to ride the wave of kindness far beyond the playgrounds of our community and surf toward civility in every corner of the community. From Main Street to Megansett, from Water Street to Waquoit, it’s time to ride the wave and share it.
Watch the video. Share a pencil. Share a smile. Give up a parking space. Buy a coffee for a stranger. Offer to help a neighbor take out their garbage. The list is limitless—the acts so simple—and the impacts profound.
With that simply daily focus, we can reverse the negativity—or we just as easily return to our collective misery. We can continue to analyze why Town Meeting was so nasty last fall, or we can simply resolve to make it better. We can continue to bitterly banter on what divides us, or offer a compliment on what unites us.
Aesop’s fable and moral were simple. So is the task before us. Start simple today. Ride the wave of kindness.
And, oh, by the way, thank Brian for his brilliant reminder.