Last year, this blog was written during the terrifying week that started with the sky going dark. While there was too much going on at the time for publishing it to be front of mind, it is now an absolute privilege to be reminded of that time, and of the overwhelming kindness that flowed from our community both in that week and the months beyond. It is essential that we never forget how truly lucky we are to live in this beautiful place, and to share our soil with the essence of true Australian heroes. We invite you reflect as you read these words and perhaps take a second to pass on some kindness to someone in your life; remember, it’s free… and it’s who we are.

Fire Port Macquarie 2019

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On this Wednesday, the 13th of November 2019, I sit at my desk at home and I feel overwhelmed, so I write. I am lucky enough to be absent from work – to be at home, keeping myself and my family safe and preventing any risk of being cut off by road closures. At the moment, we are all fortunate to be perfectly okay. There is an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and trepidation as we sit and wait, as well as an incredible hurt on behalf of those who have not been as lucky as us. The state of emergency that my community, and communities all over NSW, are currently facing is nothing less than horrific. The loss of lives is particularly dreadful, a truth of this situation that many are struggling to comprehend.

As I scroll through social media, looking for any good news at all and monitoring conditions around my home, I am reminded that this date is also World Kindness Day, and it is with both a feeling of relief, and a decent amount of guilt, that I find myself smiling.

I am immediately reminded of the following quote by Mr Rogers –

“When I was a boy and would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers, you will always find people who are helping’. To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers ― so many caring people in this world.”

In the midst of this disaster that we are all facing, it can be so hard to see the positive – and if you can’t or don’t want to, I really don’t blame you – your grief and anger is justified. That being said, this day that is celebrating kindness all over the world brings to mind the incredible kindness we have seen in our communities, highlighted by the horror and devastation surrounding them.

Our emergency services are inexpressibly amazing. Their willingness to sacrifice their bodies, minds, time and sometimes their own properties in order to serve and protect their fellow man can never be held highly enough. I will be in awe of these strong, brave and bold men and women for the rest of my life.

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The businesses and organisations who are willingly putting their profits aside in order to provide shelter, food, comfort and basic needs to both evacuated community members and emergency services, have shown not only kindness, but the type of care and love often only shown by family members in crisis. It has been humbling to witness.

And to the members of our communities who have rallied, hustled and worked their fingers to the bone – for food drives for evacuation centres, for collecting and distributing medical supplies, water and home cooked meals to our emergency services on the ground, and for putting themselves in danger as they offer their assistance freely to those around them, thank you. I see you. I admire you and our community is forever in your debt.

Kindness is everywhere in Port Macquarie

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World Kindness Day does more than highlight the good works and incredible sacrifices of the men and women I have mentioned. For me, it is a reminder that while I am extraordinarily and indescribably grateful for those people, I am also not surprised by their ingrained kindness and goodness. I am not surprised by the innate desire of everyday people to make a difference in the lives of those doing it tough – for whatever reason. Taking care of one another, pulling together in a crisis and going out of our way to ensure the safety of our mates is part of who we are as Australians. And to be honest, I couldn’t be prouder to count myself among a nation of heroes, who think of themselves as nothing more than ordinary Aussies.

World Kindness Day could not have come at a better time – if only simply to remind us, just for a moment, that it exists around us every day – and we couldn’t live in a luckier country if we tried.