Great Men from a Harsh and Unkind World by Todd Rutherford

In a world that is often harsh and rarely kind, Gary Beene’s The Seeds We Sow: Kindness that Fed a Hungry World illustrates the historical power of kindness. Beene demonstrates how the kindness that was passed from Etta Mae Budd to George Washington Carver, then on to Henry Wallace and to Norman Borlaug shaped them, one-by-one into the great men that they were, providing them with the foundation necessary for their notable agricultural advancements.

Through the kindness and acceptance of Etta Mae Budd, George Washington Carver was given the foundation for success on the campus of Iowa State, leading to great advancements in science and agriculture-an example of kindness, which he, in turn, showed to Henry Wallace. Henry Wallace was a six year old when the kindness of George Washington Carver entered his life. As the son of a dairy science professor, Carver took the child under his wing and took him with him on nature walks, sparking his interest in plants and leading to his lifelong study of agriculture.

Norman Borlaug and Henry Wallace’s collective work on an agricultural experimentation station in Mexico led to great advancements in corn and other crops. Through kindness, these men hybridized and revolutionized agriculture, feeding the world with their corn, wheat, and rice, preventing famine, “saving hundreds of millions from the savageries of starvation-and still counting.”

The Seeds We Sow reminds us to show kindness to others, regardless of age, race, or any other perceived barrier, because the effects can be profound. By revealing the “tapestry of kindness” that we are capable of weaving in our lifetimes, we are empowered to realize that even the smallest of actions can have significant outcomes; “What can be known is that by the early twenty-first century, 2 billion people were spared the horrors of daily hunger. Spared, because this group of people made a conscious decision. They chose action. They chose kindness.”

Beene’s work puts remarkable steam behind The World Kindness Movement, raising awareness of the great possibilities of deliberate acts of thoughtfulness, and reminding readers that while “random acts of kindness” are laudable, kindness should always be intentional and never random; “Every thought we think, every action we take, matters, and it only matters forever.” The World Kindness Movement has inspired millions, and whether it is through disaster relief in Japan or efforts to end bullying-the results can be mind-boggling.

By proponing the rhetoric of the reverberating effects of kindness, Beene raises awareness of the fact that one act of kindness can and does lead to another, and another. It is a truly inspirational work that will certainly lead readers to explore The World Kindness Movement, treat each person they interact with on a daily basis with respect and kindness, and soften the harsh edges of the world into a kinder place. In demonstrating how 2 billion lives were saved through simple acts of kindness, readers will approach the world with a different outlook and their relationships and interactions with a new attitude, using the history to profoundly shape the present and the future of our nation and our world.

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