Thursday, August 18, 2011
Practice Random Acts of Kindness
I think it should make us feel uncomfortable as members of the human race to live in one of the richest countries in the world and still have a huge homeless problem. Our society is a throwaway society; everyone upgrades to the latest and newest phone or gadget without even blinking about how much money it costs. We pack our groceries in plastic bags that end up littering our highways. We're taught that secondhand isn't as good as brand new. We are a nation of fast food and energy drinks, exhausted from trying to cram too much into our precious waking hours and eating garbage on the go, with no thought to the Styrofoam cup and the extra napkins and condiments we throw away or the treatment of the animals we eat. And if we see a homeless person on the side of the road, our first thought is, "I'm not going to help them because they're probably scamming people." We just want them to go away so we don't feel uncomfortable. We don't want to look at them while we travel to do our errands and go out to eat. When did we become so callous?
My father grew up during The Great Depression. I'd like to think he didn't live through some of the most tumultuous times in our nation's history just so he could watch his children become apathetic and uncaring. My mother always told me growing up, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." Now I do judge real books by their covers sometimes, but when it comes to people, I know the outside doesn't always reflect the inside.
Last night my husband and I stopped and picked up that man by the side of the road. He got in our car and he didn't even know what to say. We sat there in silence for a few moments before I asked him if he was staying or just passing through. Turns out he is from out of state and is trying to get the papers he needs to get a license and work, etc. We took him to get some food. When we got to the restaurant we told him he could order anything he wanted on the menu. He didn't even look us in the eye when he thanked us. I shook his hand and told him to have a good evening and I like to think that because of two kind people, he did.
As I shopped last night, I thought about that man and asked myself, "What if that had been me by the side of the road? Would someone have stopped for me?" I wonder. I'm someone's sister and child. I'm someone's friend. I'm college educated. I've been published and even won a writing contest once. I once saved a baby bunny from a crow. I don't litter. I say "please" and "thank you". But you wouldn't know any of those things about me, if you saw me standing by the side of the road holding a sign. My mother was right. You shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Instead, you should practice random acts of kindness.
As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!