The Healing Power of Kindness: How A Small Act of Kindness Can Make A Big Difference
It was a good year. You performed like a champion. Your boss loved what you did to make it happen. He was so impressed, in fact, that he offered you the cabin in the mountains for you and your family for a weekend in Feburary.
You made him look like a hero, why wouldn’t he love it?
But driving home, with that smug, oh-so-proud-of-yourself twinkle in your eye, you stop at the light and notice a bike on the sidewalk. Immediately, your twinkle? Fades to black.
The handlebars of that bike are are loaded with huge bags of who-knows-what. You know what. They’re loaded with everything the old man driving it owns. He’s not even pedaling in a straight line because he, too, is loaded. Driven to drink because his home on wheels doesn’t have a roof. And he has nowhere to spend the cold nights coming up.
Your smugness turns to disgust.
Who lets these people live on the streets, anyway? Why don’t they do something about the trash like this on the roads? Don’t they have shelters to go to? Don’t they have family that should be forced to help them?
You watch as the dirty-faced man pedals his crooked path, wondering why they don’t clean up the city better.
Then he hits the pavement. Every piece of clothing he had take from the dumpsters spills on to the sidewalk and he just lays there. His pride bruised deeper, so he just doesn’t move. You look closer. You see a tear slide quietly down the side of his head.
Your heart begins to beat that human rhythm again, leaving Mr. Holier-Than-Thou in the back seat. You pull over and park.
Because, as much as you hate seeing these people on the street, you can’t see anyone hurt.
You get out and walk over to him and extend your hand.
He looks at you with disbelief. You can sense kindness is not something he’s used to. The lines in his face are deep and hard, but you see them soften as he tries to wipe his tears. Your heart breaks. And so does his.
“Let me help you up.”
“Thanks, son.” He tried to smile, but his pain was too deep. He grabs your hand, you gently pull him up and begin helping him put the wad of clothes back into the bag on the bike. You’re uncomfortable and he can tell. But he appreciates your making him feel human and seen. More than you know.
“Here you go, all repacked,” you eek out as you try to smile.
“I really appreciate your help, sir. Thank you.” His smile, weak yet genuine, slices your heart. But for a brief moment, you made this frail, dirty old man feel less like vermin and more like human.
You made him feel like you cared. And in a world where dumpsters are 5-star restaurants and recycling bins are malls, a caring hand means more than the money in your pocket.
This man’s situation can’t be changed. He’s not going to land a job, be able to pay rent, or even buy groceries. He’ll never own a car, have the luxury of heating on cold winter nights. But your hand in kindness, made his dark world a little lighter.
You made a difference that gave him hope that not everyone despises him. That there is some generosity left in this world.
All you did was get out of your warm car and help him stand up.
Yet, that was enough.
Change the World
Hate and indifference runs rampant in today’s high-pressure world. People who don’t look like each other don’t know how or even WANT to get along. There’s prejudice and loathing amongst all types of people. But it’s time to change that.
It’s time to change the way we treat each other. Just because someone doesn’t look like you or doesn’t sound like you, doesn’t mean they are less than you.
Just because someone doesn’t have a roof over his head doesn’t mean he has no right to exist.
That guy you helped up? He was a vet. He doesn’t have a home because he lost everything trying to pay his wife’s medical bills years ago after she died. He couldn’t. He lost his home. He lost his pride. He lost everything.
But you wouldn’t have known that because you didn’t take time to know that. You didn’t take time to understand where he came from. To learn his story.
Everyone has A Story.
You can listen to it or you too can turn a deaf ear.
But if you want change in this world? You will only change it when you change. You can change it one act of kindness at a time.
His name was Robert.