Everyone gets tired. When we’re hungry our body chemistry can get out of balance. We all waver in our ability to meet challenges.
Our life is a series of intersections with the fates of the universe. And in what we call a “day” there will sometimes be a large percentage of easy and enjoyable fates, whereas on other days our path is steep and narrow and rocky. We will call these good days and bad days, but other aspects of the universe may disagree for my bad day might be their best day.
Life is not fair. There are some paths in life that simply contain more opportunity for formidable challenge and some paths are relatively easy by comparison. Being poor is not easy. Being uneducated is not easy. Experiencing grief or loss is not easy. There are many events in our lives that will seriously debilitate our capacity to access our humanity. Nature has provided the chemistry for frustration and anger and sadness simply because these are necessary aspects to the Yin and Yang of existence.
The albeit uneven egalitarianism of this world means that some people carry a fairly heavy load every single day. And from a perspective like that, a small act of kindness can go a very long way toward making the entire world a better place. Below is a letter I read on the St. John New Brunswick Kijiji site. It speaks to the value of compassion over judgment:
Dear woman in the red station wagon & two boys on Westmorland Rd
On Tuesday night – August 20th you took a moment out of your hectic day, stopped your travels and in a gesture of kindness offered my son and me a ride home. Had we not been just a block from our house, I would have taken you up on your kind offer but the simple fact that you saw me laden down with 6 bags of groceries and trying to corral a tired, cranky 4 year old who was less than eager to help carry the bread was enough.
When our car finally needed to be sent to the scrap yard, we simply changed to using the bus. Not a huge deal. It just meant a lot of additional travel time and a few hiccups along the way with missed connections etc.
That night was one of those hiccups. The bus driver misunderstood which stop we requested and we ended up needing to walk twice the normal distance home. One of those small things but at the end of a long day could bring a Mom to her breaking point.
I was there. I was frustrated and tired and my son was beyond exhausted – we had already spent a total of 5 hours that day on waiting for transit. You were driving by at one of those moments in a person’s life when they are not at their best. You didn’t just see us and drive by. You reached out. You didn’t see us and pass judgement of my weight or my frustrated pleas to my son to stay with me, to keep carrying the bread etc. You saw a Mom in need and offered help.
We need more people like you in this world. I cannot tell you the number of times we have been at the bus stop in the pouring rain – my son under the umbrella and me soaking wet and people have driven by us, splashing us with water. Or the times while waiting at the bus stop people have shouted out hurtful things towards me because of my weight.
You were compelled to help a stranger who obviously could use a helping hand and more importantly though, you did this random act of kindness in front of the two impressionable boys with you. I am assuming that they are your sons (if not I am sorry) but either way you led by example. You chose kindness over judgement and you modelled empathy towards another. Those two boys will be better people because of that moment, because of you.
When I got home I felt like I had failed my son for being frustrated and tired. I felt like I had been failing him as a parent because of my inability to provide him with a car due to my hours being cut at work and how he misses out on so much because of that. I cried and then he came in and asked me why I was sad. I told him that it was because Mommy felt like she wasn’t doing a very good job. He looked at me, wiped my tears and told me that I was doing a great job and that he loved me. Then he gave me a hug. I realized that I must be doing something right because the little boy in front of me was pretty special and that glimpse of the kind, caring, thoughtful young man he is becoming was wonderful.
So if you are reading this and it was you Tuesday night thank you. Your kindness was a stepping stone to that very special moment. You melted my heart and I needed you to know that. I needed to know that you made me believe in the kindness of strangers again and that gave me hope for the young kids growing up today.
If you are reading this and you aren’t the person from the red station wagon, please take a moment when you see someone in need and offer to help, offer a kind word or even just a smile. You never know what an impact you can have on someone’s day or how that moment of kindness can be the catalyst for something greater.
There is a flow to the universe and it feels like nature. Being a genuine Good Samaritan is merely an act of accessing that nature. Don’t use judgmental words to separate yourself from others. Instead use empathy to help you to connect to your own memories of your own difficult days, and draw on that emotional connection to drive you into natural action.
This is quite simply how the world changes. As people change their belief about what is appropriate in a reaction they then also change their actions. And those small, individual shifts eventually add up to fundamental change in a society’s zeitgeist—it’s overall spirit.
It is time we all with joined with this beautiful woman and openly and actively participate in building a society that acts with less judgment and more love. Because that is where we all would like to live. And with less judgment and more love we are sure to see an expansion in overall human capability. And we will have become bigger and better in a way that only love can achieve.
I love you. Now let’s all go do something nice for someone who’s having a bad day. Even if we’re having one ourselves.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.