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Letter to the editor: Little acts of kindness equal big leaps in society

The Daily Cougar was contacted earlier this month about the possibility of running guest essays by faculty members for the UH’s celebration of Martin Luthor King Jr. this week. Five faculty members wrote on the ways they help others, and one essay will run each day this week.

—The Daily Cougar editorial board

I am a middle-aged woman. I have a daughter in college and a son who is a high school senior. I have a husband who has a demanding job. I have extended family that lives out of state. I chose a career that is based on helping people. And you ask what I do for others?

I “talk” my sister home when she needs to keep herself engaged on the 30-minute drive. I teach my dad how to use a Kindle. I make his travel arrangements and travel with him on the flights that are not direct to his destination. I find my son’s car keys. I start his car to warm it up on cold mornings. I send my daughter cheery cards with stickers or Starbucks cards in them. I remind her to take study breaks when she needs them. I encourage my husband to exercise and eat healthy even when I do not want to myself. I mentor junior faculty. I encourage my students to strive for their dreams.

I struggled so to respond to this prompt because the things I do for others seem so mundane and inconsequential. Yet, what I see as trivialities may be of immediate untold value to others.

My sister, a hospice nurse, might laugh at a story I tell her. My dad can carry his whole library along with him on his travels. My son drives more safely because his hands are not cold in his warm car. My daughter may take a walk to Starbucks and stretch her legs while her brain rests from her studies. My husband will age with me rather than ahead of me. The next generation of faculty will encourage the next generation of students who will become the following generation of caregivers, in turn. My students’ dreams of doing for others will be carried on.

Doing for others need not be monumental and glorious to be valuable. But, it must be done to advance our humanity, to combat hubris.

—Martha Dunkelberger, assistant clinical professor at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

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