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Lynn Hummel column: We'll raise a cup o' kindness yet

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

By tradition, at the stroke of midnight, when the old year becomes the New Year, the band strikes up Auld Lang Syne and everybody sings and toasts, "Happy New Year."

Auld Lang Syne is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. The words of the title translate to "old long since" and the message of the song is that old times, old friends and love should not be forgotten. The words "we'll take a cup o' kindness yet" suggest a drink shared to symbolize friendship, good health, good will and "the remembrance of noble deeds." Great sentiments.

The song was popularized by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadian orchestra from 1939 until 1977 when Lombardo died. Now it is heard when the large New Year's ball drops in Times Square in New York City. Thousands gather in Times Square to be there at the stroke of midnight when it happens. Others at home can watch the festivities on TV.

Some have taken the cup o' kindness line and made kindness a New Year's resolution. Reflecting back on the year 2017, one would be challenged to recall any notable cups of kindness during the year. But then, most acts of kindness are private, personal and unreported. Most often we read about bullying, nasty remarks on Facebook, sexual harassment or bitter political attacks. In fact, 2017 just might be the nastiest year in our country's history.

But then, kindness isn't the business of politics. If one party or the other comes up with a proposal or policy that seems to smack of kindness, it will be labeled the "misguided scheme of a pack of bleeding heart do-gooders" and be shot down — or dead on arrival before it can be shot down. So, while kindness is not the business of politics — and probably shouldn't be — courtesy and consideration among adversaries should still be practiced, but seldom are.

Sometimes kindness is discussed in chemical terms. I have read that kindness produces a hormone oxytocin that is known to increase self esteem and optimism and produces endorphins which naturally decrease pain and reduce stress. But the scientific analysis of kindness leaves me cold. I did an act of kindness a few years ago and it just simply made me feel good. That ought to be enough. I think I'll try another one in 2018 and hope it provides the same wallop.

So, as we launch into 2018, wouldn't it be good if we remember old times, old friends, love, good will and noble deeds and toast one another with a cup o' kindness. Only the best to you as we move into the new year — may we all give and receive a few sips from the cup o' kindness.

Order Lynn Hummel's new book, The Last Word (171 articles, 310 pages) by sending $15 plus $3 postage ($10 plus postage for additional books) to Pony Express Books, 1948 Long Bridge Road, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, or order at: