The Human Connection
First, when you conclude any interaction with another person, damn the risk of sounding silly and go ahead and say, "Have a nice day." But don't just say it. Mean it. Look people in the eyes. Touch their arms. Make the time to stand still and connect. Second, take the advice of that new age-y bumper sticker and actually commit random acts of kindness. Give people a break when they're trying to nudge their way into the line of traffic. Bring the receptionist a cup of coffee for a change. Hold a door for someone. Do something nice for someone without he or she ever knowing who did it. Shovel your neighbor's sidewalk. Say thank you. Forgive someone. Smile.
Most people reading this probably don't have daily contact with someone who would kill a little girl. But maybe if you connect with your neighbor like this, she'll connect with her bus driver, and he'll connect with his cousin, and she'll connect with her hairdresser, and she'll connect with the kid who cuts her lawn. And maybe, just maybe, because he was blessed with the joy of human connection at just the right time, he'll make a better choice at some point down the road. Or maybe not, but that's where faith comes in. And hope. And you'll be none the worse for having made the effort.
I'm not naive. I don't think that wishing someone a nice day or even making a donation to a nonprofit organization will, in and of itself, change the world. But I do believe in the power of people and of the amazing ability of the collective desire and effort to create change. It's got to start somewhere, right? Why not here?