My Little Pony goes out of its way to show how small acts of kindness – acts of friendship – change the world. From Pinkie Pie’s smile philosophy, to the keys that unlock the Box O’ Harmony, little by little, the show has been building on a rather powerful message – that the little things make a big difference when you add it all together.
This is a truth that is just as powerful and important in real life as it is in Equestria, but we seldom get to see the full results of our actions, because magic here on Earth is a bit more subtle than it is on the show.
It’s hard to be a giving person – to be a virtuous person – when you don’t always feel like you’re making a difference. That Every Mare for Herself attitude we see in Rarity Takes Manehattan? It can come to feel like that’s all there is to life. And when you judge your own actions only by the results that you can actually see, it is easy to come to the conclusion that only in Equestria can friendship really truly be magic.
But Pony isn’t just 85 happy-endings that happen for the sake of happy endings. It’s deeper than that. It’s showing us the better side of ourselves. What we can be. It’s showing us a truth that we seldom get to witness in real life – the plain and simple fact that the little things can and do make a difference.
About nine years ago, my kids were a lot younger and needier, and I had to keep them occupied in the city while my wife took care of some important business. We found ourselves at an overpriced Manehattan pizza shop and I was in the rather unfortunate position of having to tell my daughter that I couldn’t get her the type of pizza that she wanted because it was simply too expensive. When I went to collect the slice, I found that it was not what I had ordered, but rather, what my daughter had actually wanted. At first, I thought the pizza guy was trying to get me to pay for the more expensive slice, but he soon explained that it had already been paid for.
I only saw his back as he stepped out the door, and I never got to thank him, but a total stranger had overheard my conversation and had quietly picked up the bill.
I had an epiphany that day, and for years to come, whenever I felt down about the state of the human race, I remembered that small act of kindness, and thought of the millions of quiet gestures like it that people do every day without recognition, or expectation of it. I thought of how somebody had brought a smile to my daughter’s face that he never even got to see.
I’m willing to bet that he, like so many of us, probably sometimes feels that it’s impossible to make a real difference in the world.
How could he possibly know that a $5 slice of pizza helped me turn my life around, and start actively getting out there and practicing random acts of kindness myself?
You may not get dazzling spectacles of light, and epic battles, and castles out of it, but when you reach out in kindness and friendship to your fellow man, you are still defeating a very real evil – the notion that goodness isn’t worth it – that we are powerless to make a difference.
It’s a fight that each one of us goes through everyday.
So whenever you are generous, kind, honest, funny, or loyal, and you feel drained because you think your efforts have been wasted, please take heart. They haven’t.
I know this because somewhere out there there is a totally random guy who bought my daughter a slice of pizza back in 2005, and I still owe him a key.
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Bronies for Good is doing a wonderful thing this summer – holding a good deeds drive to encourage people in the fandom to get involved in their communities in a sprit of volunteerism, and to get people sharing ideas on how best to make a difference. It’s this very spirit that really makes me love this fandom. Check out http://broniesforgood.org/2014/06/summer-o-good/ for more details.