In 2017 a group of teachers from an elementary school in California distributed one envelope to each of their students at the school’s weekly assembly where the principal took the stage to challenge them to a game of “Friday Flambé” in conclusion of Speak Kindness Week.

The students were initially tasked to search the playground to find one handwritten letter to read aloud onstage and within one inch of a burning candle flame without despairing it of its light.  When the principal yelled, “Go!” off they went screaming in excitement.

Returning to their starting points several minutes later and with their loot the students formed a line next to the stage where one by one they were asked to walk up the steps near to the flame in order to read their letter aloud without letting the paper catch fire or the flame blow out.

It wasn’t long before it was clear each student had identical letters but what was clearer is that they were given an impossible task to execute.  Each of the hundred forty-six students caused the flame to blow out each time the words were read aloud.

Though they’d run around excitedly only thirty minutes prior they now sat quietly as the lights were turned off in the auditorium so they could watch a short film about the wildfires that had caused recent devastation around their city.  

When it was over and the lights were on the principal took the stage again to ask the students if they understood the challenge and many hands went up in answer.  Some thought the task meant not to approach fire while others thought it meant to carry a fire extinguisher in emergencies.  It could have been either but with their responses the administrators realized they missed the mark in relating the task to kindness. 

Within each handwritten letter were the words Comment allez-vous?

Kindness speaks in all languages pleasing to the mind while also breathing life into Love, each equally pleasing to the heart.

It is with special attention that we must observe those who walk up to our fire holding a sheet of paper within inches of the flame to recite a question of concern in a language of love that lands with such gentleness it doesn’t require response yet calms our external fire while keeping embers within from dying.

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