“Commit random acts of kindness.” I see this bumper sticker plastered on cars around my town. As with other advice to society, I often wonder if this message permeates collective consciousness. It would appear that it does.
During a crisis, we often focus on the worst manifestations of human behavior. It becomes easy to fixate on poor examples, neglecting to see that people often rise to the occasion with kindness and compassion.
I have one such example. My family has been shopping at a small health food store for as long as I can remember. As one of the few places I have been able to safely navigate due to my environmental sensitivity, this store has become a safe haven over the years.
Sometimes I visit the store not to load up on fresh vegetables and fruits, but to feel surrounded by friendly faces. Over the years, the employees and family who own and operate the store have become a network of community support. Though familiar with my ongoing health challenges, the employees are always respectful of my privacy. Feeling welcome, embraced, and safe to meander through the familiar aisles is a comforting experience for me. Typically homebound, I relish the chance to interact with the community.
Along with everyone else who has been quarantined at home, I have relied on family members to go grocery shopping for me. This week, after returning from the store clad in gloves and a mask, my mom beamed. Clutching a piece of paper, she told me that one of the store employees had approached her to offer her phone number and boundless compassion.
The employee and friend explained that she would be happy to shop for us and deliver groceries to our home. She told my mom that with the current pandemic, she worries most about me. A glimmer of hope sparkled through me upon hearing this. So often I feel immobilized by our society’s inattentiveness toward each other. This example to the contrary, of somebody reaching out of her own accord to help, warmed me to my core.
I think we often become immune to the significance of supporting each other in seemingly small ways. Grand gestures are unnecessary to make a difference in someone’s life. These daily offerings of solidarity amount to substantial beauty in this world. The connections that bind us together are still strong. Reminding myself of this can make my world go round, even on the most challenging of days.
Perhaps random acts of kindness aren’t so random after all.
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