We are often assaulted by negative news stories. Although factual, stories of murders, terrorism, political scandals and natural disasters saturate the airwaves. While there are anecdotes detailing acts of kindness, in my humble opinion, it seems as though the stories recounting acts of malice are much more ubiquitous than those describing deeds of goodwill.
Despite this overwhelming amount of pessimistic narrative that enters our lives through newspapers, radio, television and our phones, I sincerely believe that there are more acts of benevolence than there are gestures of hostility. Kind acts occur every day around the globe, and when I learn about things that people do to add something positive to the lives of others, it motivates me even more to do the same.
While in the middle of a busy shift in the Emergency Department last year, I witnessed such an act. We were busy to the point that we ran out of rooms, so there were many patients on stretchers in the hall. I had cared for a middle-aged woman, and after some testing, deemed that she was safe to be discharged home. I cannot recall all the details, but apparently she lived about an hour away from the hospital and she had no way of getting home. The clerk in the department had offered to call a cab, and it turned out that the fare was going to be $100. My patient said that she could not afford to pay such a large fare and she stated that she had no other way of getting home.
After a short conversation at the desk with the clerk, the woman appeared despondent. Only a few minutes had passed when the man approached. He was an older gentleman, probably in his early seventies. He was a family member of another patient who had overheard the difficulties that my patient was experiencing. He took $100 dollars out of his wallet, handed it to my patient and told her that he wanted her to have it.
My patient responded by saying something like, “I can’t accept this money from you,” and then, “Why are you being so nice to me?”
I still remember the gentleman’s response. He said, “You’ve got it backwards. You’re actually doing something nice for me by allowing me to help you.”
Giving away $100 seemingly without thought to a total stranger appeared to be an effortless thing for this man to do. I believe that showing love and compassion is quite easy most of the time. Admittedly, it can sometimes be a challenge. However, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Moreover, kindness can be quite infectious, and it will be paid forward over and over again.