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People, people who push people

Nancy Purbeck's glass is half full -- and rose-colored. An optimist to her marrow, she wants all of Boston to know if only for one day the matchless joy of kindness. So, should you be one of the 60,000 commuters passing through South Station this Wednesday, brace yourself for the sixth annual Positive People Day.

''Oh, we've had our share of naysayers," said Purbeck, who credits her elementary school-teaching mother's prohibition on mean-spirited language with making apparent the worth of the courteous word. ''Yet those who say, 'I'm the negative one,' have a twinkle in their eye when we approach them with a card listing positive suggestions.

The thousands of cards to be distributed by a small army of benevolent volunteers exhort commuters to share laughs or hugs, give unexpected compliments, and call their mothers. Next to a testimonial from Mayor Thomas M. Menino declaring a positive attitude ''one of the best weapons against violence" appears the cartoon character Underdog.

''Underdog used cleverness and language to fight villains and make the world a better place," said W. Watts Biggers, who co-created the kind canine rhymester in the early '60s. ''He never resorted to killing or violence or cruelty."

''I want what we're doing in Boston to serve as a national model," said Purbeck. ''I want Positive People Day to rank alongside Christmas or Valentine's Day."


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