The Kindness of Strangers

Today I was listening to the radio, thinking about other things, when I suddenly realised a little girl - perhaps 11 or 12 - was speaking on the air.

"Can you tell me what to do when you know that your parents are going to get divorced? My mom and dad yell at each other and then don't speak to each other; sometimes my mom says that she can't take it anymore and that we have to leave.." Her voice broke, and it was obvious she was close to tears. "I don't know what to do. What should I do?"

The DJ spoke to her very kindly, though it was pretty clear that he wasn't quite sure what to say. He asked her a few questions and then said, "I'll be your big brother. I'll say silly things and make you laugh. And I'll be here for you; call me again if you need me. OK? Promise? You promise that you call me if you ever need to talk to someone?"

The girl promised, laughed shyly, and said goodbye.

Tears had welled in my eyes, sentimental fool that I am, and I began to think about strangers and how beautiful their kindness can be. Sometimes we may feel forgotten, unwanted, or are struggling with a problem in isolation; but we forget that there is a world of loving, caring people out there who really do want to help.

Take PostSecret, for example. Strangers share secrets with one another, sometimes deep and lonely and sad secrets, and always, always there will be at least one person - and likely hundreds or thousands more - who identifies, who understands, who finds comfort that they are not alone. Love surrounds this project in an astounding, overwhelming way.

Just this week, a woman whom I have never met wrote to me. She had seen that, as part of my Mission: One Oh One project, I was hoping to fold 1000 paper cranes - and she wanted to know if she could help. Just a few days ago I received a stack of paper with a lovely note wishing me happiness and love. (Thank you, Erica! A special letter will be headed your way soon!)

Last week a stranger asked me about my religious faith; though we didn't quite share the same beliefs, we shared thoughts and ideas and had a lovely conversation. Before he left, he asked if he could pray for me - and I was touched.

Millions upon millions of these little kindnesses happen every day, here and across the country and throughout the world; and these small, unselfish acts of love give me hope in the goodness of humanity. And the best part about it? It is so easy to pass the love forward - by letting someone cut in front of you in line, by putting a quarter in an expired meter, by commenting on that woman's beautiful scarf!

Pass the love on!


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