Boerum Hill had a wonderful postal carrier Joey (1988-1994) who made it a point to tell all the kids in the area and literally anyone really that "it costs nothing extra to be nice to one another". I know that many of the kids thought he was an old kookie man but I admired him since he was truly a man on a kindness mission. Being determined to be a kind person in a very unkind world is not for the faint of heart. I hope his words made impact on a few young ears, he certainly had an impact on mine.
In later years when I sat outside the museum (2002-2014) every weekend chatting it up with neighbors. I practiced several Yoko Ono performance concepts, my favorite was that "smile to the future and it will smile back". Maybe it was my small attempt to drop kindness like breadcrumbs, as a way to remember my way home, like from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. "Home" for me is more than a physical place that I can store my belongings, it is a metaphor for my interior life. There are many ways that Ms. Ono inspires me, I just love her comments like "the opposite of love is fear, not hate" and "art is a verb, not a noun" but my all time favorite quote is "People do not remember every tree in the park but we all benefit from trees. Artists are like trees in the park." She has always been an artist who offers words of encouragement and hope.
It is easy to despair in the state of the world but it is not helpful to allow ourselves to become bitter. Creative people have a responsibility to influence culture by open and direct actions. One action worth considering is to be civil in the face of incivility because being generous really does disrupt a closed mind.