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Let’s Practice Goodwill Year-round–Not Just During the Holidays

Let’s Practice Goodwill Year-round–Not Just During the Holidays

By Dr. Cheryl L. Nixon, Berea College President

The holiday season is marked by many wonderful traditions, from handmade Christmas cards to baking cookies to Secret Santa gift exchanges with family, friends and colleagues. Hanukkah is a time for the inspiration from light when days are short and nights are long. Kwanzaa celebrates the harvest and culminates in joy and gratitude through a communal feast.

As Christmas cards begin to arrive at my home, I’m reminded of familiar messages this time of year: goodwill toward others, and the hope and joy that result from such kindnesses.  Goodwill toward others is something we can practice every day—in big ways and with small gestures. In fact, this notion of goodwill stems from an emphasis on impartial love—of treating others as you would like to be treated—upon which Berea was founded. It also echoes the motto of Berea, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” from Acts 17:26 in the Christian New Testament. If we remember that we are all connected through one blood, it makes it easier, perhaps, to take care of our neighbors as a way of affirming our common kinship.

Goodwill is therefore built into the eight Great Commitments to represent the mission of Berea College. Our Seventh Great Commitment, supportive and sustainable living, calls for us “to maintain a residual campus and to encourage in all community members a way of life characterized by mindful and sustainable living, health and wellness, zest for learning, high personal standards, and a concern for the welfare of others.” In mindful living, we are conscious of what’s happening to us and others, and we have a keen awareness of our surroundings. We can see when someone is hurting or in need and we can provide comfort and support. At Berea, we demonstrated the Seventh Great Commitment during our Homecoming activities in November. Through our Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS), we partnered with the Berea Food Bank to host the Better Together 5k Run. Participants and donors raised nearly $1,200 to keep food on the shelves of the food bank for community members in need. 

At Berea, we try to express the ideals of goodwill, wellness, and welfare throughout the year, not just at the holidays. Students and staff in CELTS and in the Francis and Louise Hutchins Center for International Education and other campus organizations and individual members of the campus community show their concern for the welfare of others by collecting winter coats, hats and gloves for students during the colder months; making care packages for students who remain on campus during the winter break and Christmas holiday; and offering rides to and from the airport for students traveling home for the holidays.

These gestures—acts of kindness—certainly bring people joy—both the givers and the receivers.  And that joy and the hope of both a holiday season and a coming new year can result in goodwill throughout the months to come, not just at the holidays, so that goodwill is sustained throughout the year.

I hope your holiday is marked by this same kind of goodwill, hope and especially joy.

Snow on a plant with red berries
President's Home in the snow
Christmas tree and village at Boone Tavern
Hannuka candle