Passing through the great room, I glanced at the HGTV show Mrs. tVM was watching this afternoon and noticed that the ‘star’ of show wore a t-shirt that read, “Let Your Smile Change the World.”  Great stuff.

Ever since I saw Forrest Gump run cross-country – literally ACROSS the country – I thought Forrest Gump was the creator of the ‘smiley face.’  No kidding!  Last week, I learned that Harvey Ball, a commercial artist was the actual designer.  Although Harvey died in 2001, his birthday was yesterday, July 10, 1921.  No kidding!

Though some would deny it, and many more restrain it, I believe the desire to smile and connect with other human beings – face to face in a meaningful way – is in our DNA.  I was not taught to smile or say ‘hello’ to fellow human beings and creatures whose paths I cross, but ever since I can remember, I have.  I am certain it is in my DNA and I am certain it is in yours as well.  I encounter many human beings and creatures as I bicycle, hike and walk.  I will not pass a single one without saying ‘hello’ or ‘good morning.’  I wave at cars in my neighborhood as I walk Clarence.  I wave at cars and people I pass in my neighborhood as I drive my car.

I only wish my fellow citizens on planet Earth would do the same.  I wrote a blog many years ago and suggested that not more than one out of five people I pass on a bicycle ride will return my greeting.  Some even glare as if I bear a third eye in the middle of my forehead.  The number may be even smaller today as faces are buried in cell phone screens.  I do not get it because I cannot even read my cell phone in sunlight!

Though I am disappointed by the lack of human response, I continue to say ‘hello’ and acknowledge my fellow travelers in life wherever I meet them.  By the way, animals – dogs, burrowing owls, bugs, coyotes, roadrunner, etc. – all reply in kind, “Mitakuye Oyasin.”

I have given much thought to this ‘genetic’ drive to acknowledge my fellow creatures on earth.  This week, amid the racial insecurity that has legitimately spawned much protest, I smiled to myself as I concluded that

the simple act to smile and say ‘hello’ to people and creatures I encounter is no more than to say to each
“Your life matters,”

and because it does, I am acknowledging your presence on Earth as I cross your path.  Your color, your race, your religion, your creed is of no consequence to me.  The fact that you have been placed on Earth as a fellow traveler with me means that your life matters.  You have the choice to acknowledge my greeting and respond in like that my life matters, too.  If you do not, that is okay.

The original charter of this website was and remains “to make the world a better place to be.”  You can promote that goal simply by sharing your smile and acknowledging the value of your fellow creatures with a simple ‘hello.’  Don’t let the many opportunities you have each day to do it pass.

Mitakuye Oyasin

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  1. Your life DEFINITELY matters, too Gene…. and I totally agree that a “Smile”, or Hello is a gift that keeps on giving ! We wave and say hello to all our neighbors in our FL. Community every evening when we take our little Yorkie for a golf cart ride, then a nice run for some exercise…. !! These don’t cost a penny, but could be worth their weight in Gold to
    others !

    1. Thanks for adding your comment, Bette. In addition to the comments this post is receiving, I am a bit overwhelmed by the number of emails I’ve received responding to this post. It reaffirms my conviction that people really are good. It is in our genes. Sometimes, we just need a bit of encouragement to act upon our goodness.

    1. The Jewish ‘Shema’ tells us actions speak louder than words, that a person’s actions are “seen on his hand as a sign and a badge on her forehead.” To me, that simple, beautiful smile is a clear sign and badge of what is in a person’s heart.