Thursday, August 18, 2011

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Last night my husband and I grabbed a bite to eat before we headed to Whole Foods to do our weekly grocery shopping. It was a simple act, one we'd done many times before. On the way to the store, we saw a man standing by the side of the road with a sign asking for help. This is a common sight in Dallas near busy intersections; we have a lot of people passing through the state on their way to other places and a lot of people that came here thinking the warmer climate would bring them better luck. Most people didn't even look at the guy; they seemed uncomfortable that they had to wait at a red light with him standing next to their car.

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!


Sandra's Fiberworks said...

Wow, good for you for actually doing that. Proud to know you! Yes, all this is so true, though with the economy tanking again, and perhaps this time more seriously, I do think people are waking up to hopefully a better value system; not one based on the dollar bill. And my mother also grew up during the Great Depression. It shaped her entire life. She's convinced we're heading toward another one, and I'm beginning to wonder if she could be right..thanks for visiting my "Feed a fish" post, and hope you come back! I'm a new follower here. To you have a "follow me" button though? I like scrolling through blogs best...

vivinfrance said...

Amen to all of that. But remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Nora B. Peevy said...

Sandra, I do have a follow button. It is on the righthand side. You can follow me through Google or Facebook's Networked Blogs. Glad you stopped by! I really enjoyed your fish post. I hope we don't get ourselves into another depression like that, but if so, I think I am strong enough to endure that.

Vivinfrance, yes, it feels good to do nice things for people.