On Carrots and Sticks: Positive Reinforcement Stands Out in Visceral Times

I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the other things like courage, or bravery, or generosity, or anything else. ~Roald Dahl

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. ~FDR

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” —Desmond Tutu.

I didn’t think it would matter much, to be honest.

On a whim, earlier last week I dashed off a quick email to my son’s dentist to thank him and his staff for taking COVID precautions. It was a few sentences long – nothing dramatic or full of flair.

I wrote that email because of one I received from his office – the tone of which suggested they were being attacked for requiring vaccinations and masks, and for increasing ventilation in their office and exam rooms (yes, I know. I live in Missouri.)

And then, as soon as I hit “send” on my email, I promptly forgot about it.

Until that night, when I got a voicemail from the dentist. In the most earnest voice you can imagine, he explained he was calling to say thank you.

Because the email I dashed off while standing in the kitchen, yelling out times tables and chugging coffee, had really buoyed the spirits of his bedraggled staff. Apparently they had suffered about 48 hours of vitriol, and seeing my email made them feel so much better.

It was a good reminder that in the viscous time we live in, being kind stands out.

Even something as small and seemingly insignificant as a kind email that you dash off between conference calls or while you’re waiting in line for coffee … something you can do while you’re just marking time in your day … can make a big difference in someone else’s.

In our search for ways to make an impact on the world, I think we often overlook the simplest, and most personally rewarding things we can do. Being kind. Saying thank you. Encouraging others.

Instead, there’s much more focus on the “sticks.” Calls of protest, petitions, angry performances at school board and city council meetings.

It’s in this backdrop, when all of the vitriol is both caustic and common, that a little ray of sunshine stands out.

And you know what? Even though my son’s dentist said that my email made his staff’s day, his voicemail made mine.

He didn’t need to call me and thank me for that email.

But I’m so glad he did, because it reminded me just how important it is – maybe especially now – to be kind.

So this week, when you’re given the choice between a carrot and a stick … choose a carrot.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of October 19, 2021

Vote on Freedom to Vote Act Scheduled

Majority Leader Schumer has scheduled a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act for Wednesday! As a refresher, the Freedom to Vote Act is Manchin’s voting rights legislation. He believes it to be “non-partisan” (I’d argue that at this point, voting rights has become partisan, but I think he needs to figure that one out on his own) and has been working to find 10 Republicans to get it over the filibuster hurdle. We’ll see on Wednesday how it fares.

Of course, if Manchin fails to garner support, it’s possible that Manchin will start to see the need for filibuster reform. I’m keeping my fingers crossed …

So, interestingly, we’re in a win-win situation. If Manchin’s bill does overcome a filibuster, we get voting rights legislation (even if watered down from what we’d like). If not, we can point to this legislation to try to get Manchin to modify the filibuster – and rally Democrats to electing more Democrats to the Senate (and keeping the House) so that we can get voting rights legislation over the finish line.

Our job is to head to the phones and call our Senators – both parties.

Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at _____. I’m calling to ask the Senator to support the Freedom to Vote Act. It’s critical legislation that will protect our right to vote, and is non-partisan. Have a nice day. (See? A carrot!)

Pitch in To Cure Some Ballots In Virginia!

Mail-in ballots in Virginia were not often used pre-COVID. Last year, the requirement for a witness signature was waived – not now. So, many of the ballots that are being mailed in do not have a witness signature which is now required.

Virginia Democrats are hosting daily phone banks to reach out to voters and help them “cure” these ballots.

Join a “cure” phone bank now through 31st.

“Talk to Virginia voters on the phones about how to cure issues with their ballots to ensure that every eligible voter can successfully cast a ballot in the critical 2021 elections. Join our team today and you’ll play an essential role in protecting the rights of Virginia voters and keeping Virginia Blue.

  • What you need: A phone, computer, and a friendly personality.
  • What we provide: Everything else! We begin every shift with a brief training, and staff members are there at every step of the way if you have any questions!”

Details here:  https://www.mobilize.us/virginiavoterprotection/event/417808/

Phone Bank to Register Likely Dems in Georgia

With voter suppression measures in Georgia and other southern states (I’m looking at you, Texas!) we need to do everything we can to register voters. Field Team 6 has been working to register voters for years, and has virtual phone banks across the country to help register more voters. Sign up for a shift!! https://www.mobilize.us/mobilize/event/387765/

Send Postcards With Postcards to Voters:

More Virginia! Postcards to Voters’ Campaign #267 is to help re-elect VA Delegate Joshua Cole

From Postcards to Voters: The last day to write to Virginia Democrats is approaching and we need to step up to the challenge so that our fun, friendly election reminders can make the most difference for as many candidates as possible. Let’s write to make a winning difference to re-elect Democrat Joshua Cole.In 2017, Joshua Cole proudly ran for the Virginia House of Delegates to represent Virginia’s 28th District, becoming the first African-American and youngest person to receive any party’s nomination, along the way. In a hard-fought race, Joshua finished less than 100 votes shy of having the honor of representing the 28th District. In 2019, he went back and finished the job – becoming one of the youngest members in the Virginia General Assembly.Delegate Cole has lived in Fredericksburg and Stafford County his entire life. He knows what it means to build a home in Fredericksburg and Stafford County. Delegate Cole understands the issues Virginians are facing, and he has been a tireless advocate for his hometown.In Richmond, Delegate Cole has taken a people-first approach to policymaking. He voted to increase access to affordable healthcare, raise the minimum wage, and make community college tuition-free. Now that we know which Democrats have already voted early, the list of remaining Democratic folks to remind is much shorter. Let’s make a big push on this list.

Please invite your friends to text JOIN to (484) 275-2229 or to email us at Join@TonyTheDemocrat.org because the more folks we have helping us write, the more lists we can finish for more candidates to win.

If you are already an approved writer, here are three easy ways to request your addresses:

1. Text HELLO to (484) 275-2229 or

2. Message HELLO to Abby the Address Bot on our Slack channel here: https://bit.ly/SlackAbby or

3. Send an email to: Request@AbbyAddresses.orgNot yet approved and ready to join?1. Text JOIN to (484) 275-2229 or2. Send an email to: Join@TonyTheDemocrat.org

WHEW! GO TEAM!

P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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