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No doubt you are as upset as we are about the toxicity and negativity in our country and community. It seems as though on any given day there is little good news that most can agree on.

At the same time, we know that this is a matter of perspective. We all have much to be grateful for. On any given day, hundreds of thousands of acts of kindness are being performed in our community; hundreds of millions in our country. The general public is not aware of these because we are not connecting the dots. It can take five positive impressions to negate one negative impression.

Whether we watch, read, stream or listen to the news – and regardless of politics or which party occupies the White House or dominates Congress at any point in time – we often don’t learn of the positive acts in our communities and across our nation. In our steady diet of news, we generally receive many negative impressions compared to a few positive ones. This presents a distorted reality, because it is repeated over and over again, and it becomes the reality that we believe.

That is why we are turning to you. Become a “Citizen of Kindland” to help jump-start community awareness and positive action through the Cleveland to Kindland Initiative. Kindland is just that – embedding kindness throughout Greater Cleveland by schools, businesses, churches, synagogues, mosques, cities and the general public doing and reporting acts of kindness through the unifying hashtag #kindland and a Passport-to-Kindland app under development; enabling Cleveland and our region to become the kindest “land” in the nation.

Values-in-Action Foundation is leading this all-inclusive effort, documenting one million acts of kindness by the end of 2021. Some eighty community leaders have already signed onboard as leaders or co-chairs, and organizations. The Cleveland Jewish News, American Red Cross, The City Club of Cleveland, Destination Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Police Chiefs Association, Rotary Club of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Awakening Angels, Achievement Centers for Children, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Bedford City Schools, Believe in Dreams, Operation Comic Book and United Church of Christ have come on board as foundational and nonprofit partners. You can see the full list at kindland.us.

Values-in-Action will be making a big awareness push in the next few months for citizens to become citizens of Kindland by taking the pledge and by posting yard signs and window signs and to start focusing on doing the positive instead of focusing on the negative. Kindness – Kindland – can become a unifying cultural and communal banner and ripple effect that is uplifting and empowering.

The uniqueness about kindness is it creates its own chain reaction, a pay-it-forward movement which impacts at least three other people for each act of kindness that is done. It is universally accepted by all people and by all religions, becoming a universal language and bridge-builder in these times and at anytime. Studies on kindness have shown that kindness increases healing and happy hormones in the body and reduces toxic and stress-inducing hormones, prolonging life, happiness, health and productivity. Many doctors have recognized the value of doing one act of kindness every day and the daily writing of items of gratitude, showing positive results that have decreased depression and anxiety.

Mark Twain summed it up beautifully: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Become a citizen of Kindland. Take the pledge with your children and grandchildren, enabling them to become Kindland ambassadors, and become a change agent through this simple and profound formula to transform our community and country. Let’s make Cleveland Kindland.

“Citizen of Kindland” and “Just Be Kind” yard signs and posters are available at kindland.us.

Richard Bain is mayor of Pepper Pike, the Rev. Brian Cash is senior pastor of East Mount Zion Baptist Church in Cleveland and Alan Ross is board chair of Values-in-Action Foundation in Mayfield. They are co-chairs of the Kindland initiative.

Publisher’s Note: The Cleveland Jewish News is a foundational partner of #Kindland.

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