For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. –Matthew 25:35
I was reading a news story recently about a passerby who pulled an accident victim from a burning car. That reminded me of a video I saw some months back about a group of people who ran to the aid of a motorcyclist who had been hit by a car and was trapped underneath. The car was on fire. The people actually lifted the car up enough for someone to pull him out from under the car and to safety before the car exploded.
The term “good Samaritan” comes from a story in the Bible about a man who was mugged on the road and left to die. Many people passed by, but then a Samaritan stopped and helped him. He took the man to an inn and paid the innkeeper to nurse him back to health. There are many levels to the story, like the fact that Samaritans were not popular in that area and yet it was a Samaritan who stopped while the victim’s countrymen ignored his plight. The point, though, is that a stranger stopped to help.
I was in a bad car accident once. I was driving on a two lane highway in Arkansas at night. As I approached a curve on the outside, a pickup truck driving too fast in the other direction on the inside lane swung wide into my lane. I veered off to the shoulder, but lost control in the gravel and plunged off the road. My car flipped over down an embankment and ended up upside down. I was on the roof of the car in the dark, disoriented and in shock. I was most concerned for my two dogs. I found them in the rear of the car and managed to climb out one of the doors with them and scramble through the brush back up to the road.
By that time, several cars had stopped and people were coming down the embankment to help me. In a daze, I was aware of people asking me if anyone else was in the car and if I was all right. I felt a twinge in my shoulder and when I reached to touch it realized that my collarbone was smashed. I calmly said I needed a ride to the hospital.
There was some discussion among my rescuers. One young couple was headed in the direction of the nearest hospital. They loaded me and the dogs in their car and off we went. At the hospital, they came in with me. Once they saw I was in good hands, they took my dogs home with them. When friends were able to pick me up hours later, they brought my dogs back to the hospital. (They must have given their phone number to someone at the hospital.) In my shock and by that time drugged state, I didn’t even get their names.
Strangers helping strangers. In dramatic ways and everyday ways. My daughter was walking home from high school one day. She saw a woman who looked lost and distressed. Mia offered to help. The woman clearly had some sort of mental disability and had gotten off at the wrong bus stop. She was able to give Mia her address. It was a long detour for Mia, but Mia walked her all the way home and made sure there was someone there for her. Mia has done many wonderful things in her life, but I count that as one of the things I’m most proud of.
At some point in our lives, we all find ourselves, as Blanche so famously said in A Streetcar Named Desire, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Sometimes, we are that stranger offering kindness to someone else. And in those moments, whether giving or receiving help, we realize something that at other times we so easily forget.
There are no strangers.
Related posts: The Kindness Game, Mi Casa Es Su Casa, A Few Leaves, There is No Them
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Kindness of Strangers
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
How proud you must be of Mia! Thank you for sharing these stories, Galen.ReplyDelete
"There are no strangers". YES!
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me". (Matt 25:25)
Alexia, Yes I was very proud. As a parent, I want more than anything else for my kids to be kind.Delete
Oh yes..."There are no strangers," what a lovely quote....and what an amazing story, especially how dear they were for your animals, so often even your own relatives don't show so much caring when it comes to animals...and Mia or my what a story, to treasure about your dear daughter... what a very uplifting post this is...especially so!ReplyDelete
Karen, I thought about those good Samaritans after I was home and my head cleared. There was no way for me to follow up with more thank you's beyond what I managed to mumble at the time. I hope they can feel the gratitude I've held for them all these years.Delete
That is so wonderful to have had strangers even care for the dogs. As for Mia you have a right to be proud. As here parent you have taught her well.ReplyDelete
Bonnie, Yes, they were so caring. The dogs were not injured, but they were shaken up and bruised. The kindness of this young couple to them when I was at the hospital is something I'll never forget. As for Mia, she has always been her own person! I love to take credit for these proud moments anyway.Delete
Beautiful and powerful, Galen. We all need each other. Recognizing that basic fact of the human condition and acting upon it makes life so much better.ReplyDelete
Bob, I used to think that I didn't need any help from anyone. Ha! Parenthood cured me of that notion.Delete
This is one of the "changes" that I am going to do something about it.ReplyDelete
I'm not a type of person to help strangers or do something for them.I think I am little afraid of strangers....from now on I would try to help and trust them as much as I can....but It would be hard for me ;)
Ghazal, I can hear your ambivalence. Even small kindnesses help us connect. A smile. A silent blessing sent to someone as we pass by. Sometimes if I find myself drawing back from someone or judging someone as I pass by, I try to simply smile or send a blessing as I move by. Start wherever you can and remember to send some of that loving kindness to yourself!Delete
Beautifully said Galen - You got me on this one - I love the lovingkindness of people and their willingness to help. Not sure if you know but in the last 3 years of my journey across America and living in places for 4-6 months I have come to the realization that people are amazing and they want to help - so yes there are NO STRANGERS -ReplyDelete
Nancy, What an adventure! You must have so many stories! And so many "not strangers" you've encountered! I want to know more.Delete
Amen! Strangers helping strangers...the world is a better place because of the kindness that still exists. I remember when a couple stopped for me and my two kids when we needed help on the side of the road. And we have helped others along the way as well. Just the other day my husband picked up a family and drove them to their destination. He said that his first thought when he saw them was of that couple who had stopped for me all those years ago!ReplyDelete
Alida, When people are kind to us, we are more aware of opportunities to be kind to others.Delete
Beautiful story. I have never had anything quite so immense happen, but have been aware of others being aware of me. It is a special feeling as they were strangers.ReplyDelete
Barbara, The dramatic stories are more memorable, perhaps, but there are so many less "immense" ways that people can help others. You are right that it leaves a special feeling.Delete
We're all in this together. Isn't that wonderful?ReplyDelete
Linda, Yes it is!Delete
Galen: There is nothing better. Once in a while, I give my students assignments that are unusual. For example, I tell them to perform random acts of kindness during the course of a week, and to record their actions. The catch is that they are not allowed to let the receiver of the kindness know who they are. The results are fascinating, and sometimes life-changing.ReplyDelete
JJ, Once again I am aware of what an amazing teacher you are and how lucky your students are. Thanks for sharing this great idea. This is something people could do with friends or family as well.Delete
Nice post and good readingReplyDelete
In a number of the books I read this past year for review there was quite a bit of evidence that strangers are more likely to help that the neighbors especially in big cities...there is a survival mechanism built right in
In Situation Matters Sam Sommers spends a whole chapter on this as it is so built into the fabric of our lives. Whereas as small city folks visiting the big city haven't got their "radar" turned down and just think city folks are crazy.
There are exceptions. Such as the story about a survivor who tried to commit suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge...as he tells his story he said several people talked to him as he was standing on the bridge preparing to jump. One tourist asked him to take her picture on the bridge and he did. As she walked away, he began climbing and then jumped.
I can not find my copy of that book...I must have given it to the fundraiser for the homeless children....another way we are charitable and good sams!
Patricia, Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing some of the stories from it.Delete
Your post is an absolute treat but I am deeply touched by the end of it when you write: "There are no strangers". When we realize this we understand everything and we don't doubt one minute when it comes to help others.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing these stories with us, they show there is lots of kindness out there.
Take care and have a beautiful day Galen Pearl.
Marie, When we realize that there are no strangers, we can also connect over all the differences that we mistakenly think separate us, like culture, faith, race, gender.Delete
There shouldn't be any strangers in this world since we are all in the same boat so to speak. And with the growing interconnectedness of the world, anything that happens in one place can have an impact on another. Yet there are so many things that divide us when we should stand united. It makes me wonder how we will cope as a race should a large enough external threat happen one day. Will we be able to put aside our differences and unite before it is too late?
The stories you have shared about yourself and your daughter is heartwarming and a good sign. There are so many little acts of kindness that goes unsung in the world today. But each of them counts and we should never give up a chance to practice kindness. For we never know when we will be on the receiving end one day and we would also want others to show us kindness.
Thank you for sharing this lovely article with us!
Irving the Vizier
Irving, I think in the scenario you describe involving an external threat, we tend to band together. What immediately came to mind was the headline in a French paper the day after 9/11. "We are all Americans." The sad thing is that we often unite in fear and anger, closing ourselves off from the "other," rather than uniting in compassion and openness, allowing us to see that there is no "other," there is only "us."Delete
I have had many Good Samaritans throughout my Life and I've always tried to pay it forward and be one. If we treat each person as though they aren't a Stranger then the personalization of the experience creates the sense of being valued and acknowledged... a basis for meaningful relationship, however brief it may be. One of the saddest things I see in our Society today is how many people are truly lonely and how few people have the capacity to give their full attention to anyone, which makes any interaction seem superficial.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by for a visit with such a sincere compliment about my Blog. And yes, I do travel with a camera now almost all of the time! *LOL* I didn't used to, but after beginning this Journey and Blog Journal I discovered the Joy of the Art of Photography and though only an Amateur, as an Artist I Love the Creative outlet of it. My younger Brother is a retired Professional Photographer and so I have the Blessing of getting free advice about perfecting the Craft and how to become better and better at it. Though the more complex camera that I received as a gift isn't used nearly as much as my old point and shoot, which I'm still more comfortable with. *Smiles* After all, teaching an old dog new tricks takes time... *Winks*
Happy Valentine's Day from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian
Dawn, Thanks for sharing some of your own story. And I agree with your observation that our society, at least in the US, seems to nurture alienation and isolation rather than connection. I hope that will change.Delete
A stranger is a friend you have not met yet!ReplyDelete
Rhonda, I've heard that before, but I had forgotten it. Thanks for reminding me.Delete
how are you?
first of all apologies for my long absence on your blog. i have been involved in a few things for the last 8 weeks and i would share them in my response to your mail.
you've touched on a very crucial subject here. there was a question in the newspapers a few days ago on if our kindness as well as our moral compass have gone down due to the recession, budget cuts, low concern for humanity....
sadly the responses weren't too encouraging.
it is important we show kind gestures and always be in a state of readiness to help others.
showing kindness and care to others is so right and absolutely fulfilling.
thanks for sharing.
take care and enjoy the rest of the day.
ayo, Always glad to see you whenever you stop by. No apologies ever necessary. When we are in challenging times, fear seems to play a critical role. Our fear separates us and we act accordingly. On the other hand, those who move through their fear find compassion in tough times and reach out with open hearts and hands. Hope you enjoy your day, too.Delete
Very heart-warming post, Galen. I believe that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met, yet. Hugs!ReplyDelete