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A better way to thank Waltham

Published: November 11, 2011
Section: Editorials


This week, someone who thought they were clever installed small, red lawn signs that read “Brandeis Thanks Waltham, Kindness Week,” on the sidewalk curbs of South Street.

To be clear, Kindness Week is well intentioned and we applaud any opportunity to hold the door for someone, to take out the trash and generally just pay it forward.

But the red signs that now litter South Street aren’t about kindness. They’re about a top-down mandate to be kind, a mandate that’s all words and no action. Kindness isn’t about saying thank you once a year. Kindness—and the Brandeis-Waltham relationship—is about mutual respect that lasts throughout the year, something shown not through words but through deeds.

Kindness is Stanley Family Night, scheduled for Dec. 5, when Brandeis students will volunteer at the local Stanley elementary school, putting together a “carnival-like event” while interacting with Waltham families.

Kindness is also Waltham Group, which gives Brandeis students the chance to volunteer in the community through mentorship and community programming.

In these cases, acts of kindness are tangible and lasting. They aren’t top-down directives to be good; they require work and commitment from Brandeis students.

The Brandeis-Waltham relationship has much room to grow. South Street potholes could be filled, for one thing. Brandeis students could drive a little more carefully in Waltham neighborhoods. Waltham landlords could clean up their properties a little more carefully. And Brandeis students living off-campus could be a little quieter when holding parties.

Kindness week will end today but that doesn’t really mean anything. It is the actions that Brandeis takes all year round that are the real measure of kindness.