I believe that in this tough and leathery old world there are many decent, caring people. In fact, I believe that there are far more of them than the media would have us believe. After all, we are bombarded every day with stories of horrific acts of violence, with identity theft, cheating, plagiarism, murder, rape, embezzlement. We read stories of looting that goes on during a major flooding catastrophe, of thieves who greedily scan obituaries and then rob the grieving relatives’ house while they are at the funeral home.
We read of darkness; story after story of darkness. We could drown in these stories and never lift our heads again.
Yet, rising like a phoenix out of the mire, come stories of unexpected acts of kindness, surprisingly and wonderfully unselfish. Not the organized acts of volunteerism and helpfulness, which are wonderful and true blessings to the receivers, but small acts of kindness done by people going out of their way to do the good and the right thing.
A Midwest boy loses his baseball mitt in Florida on a spring break trip. A few weeks later, back home, he receives a surprise package from New York containing the mitt, found by an East Coast man who had also vacationed in Florida. They had never met.
A Newark cab driver returns a four-million-dollar Stradivarius, accidentally left behind in his cab, to the violinist who had borrowed it for a concert.
A trucker carefully nudges, all the way to the nearest gas station, the pick-up truck of a young person who ran out of gas in the middle of an interstate bridge.
A motorist sees a woman standing on a rainy street corner, shivering under her sodden hood, and tosses a small umbrella to her, saying “Keep it!”
A kind-hearted soul finds a cell phone in a grocery store parking lot, does some minor detective work, and mails the phone back to its owner.
A shopper finds a lovely ring in a dressing room, and instead of keeping it, turns it in to customer service where it is gratefully retrieved by its owner the next day.
A complete stranger buys a train ticket for a young woman when a machine won’t accept her money, saying it is his present to her.
A teenager, noticing a frightened elderly woman walking through a parking lot unable to find her car, goes with her and uses the woman’s automatic lock on her key chain to make the woman’s car honk and lights flash to find the car.
These are the kinds of stories that keep us going, that keep us hoping for a better world, that keep us waiting for a chance to do a good turn for someone else.
I believe that acts of kindness can multiply exponentially and bless the world with goodness, even a fallen world. I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.