Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kind of matters.

Have you ever tried changing lanes on the LA freeway system? Fought for a parking space at Costco on a weekend day? Waited in line only to have someone jump in front of you and had to say “Excuse, but I think I was next???” If you have, and have had those experiences repeatedly as I have, then you will understand why I say that I never expected our world to be a particularly kind place. Each man for himself. Survival of the fittest. Dog eat dog and so on.

It turns out that I was wrong. Our world is filled with kind people. I know this because I am the beneficiary of random acts of kindness from complete strangers almost every day of my life. Living with a disability has taught me that.

My disability has progressed as my disease has. In time I needed a cane, then a walker and now use a wheelchair from time to time. As my disability became more visible to the outside world, I began experiencing more and more of these acts of kindness.

I used to travel for work and often someone, a complete stranger, would see my awkwardness, grab my bags and help me get on or off a shuttle to or from the airport. One day I was getting in my car and dropped something as I was fumbling with my keys. A stranger driving down the street pulled over, jumped out of his car and handed me the dropped items. Random acts of kindness from complete strangers. WOW!

These repeated experiences have completely changed my view. The world is filled with kind people who are willing and ready to help a stranger. Random acts of kindness are much more common than I ever dreamed of and as the beneficiary, I make it a point to acknowledge and thank these people from the bottom of my heart.

But kindness is often more than performing a simple task or favor. Kindness reveals itself in many different ways. It may be in the form of an anonymous donation to a cause or simply picking up an item at a store for someone because it may be wanted or needed.

Kindness can be the act of just listening to a loved one or a complete stranger who just needs to be heard or get something off their chest. It could be as simple as saying “hello” and “how are you” to someone who rarely gets asked at their job or work, like a cashier or bank teller or someone working behind the counter at a fast food franchise.

Kindness reveals itself in a thousand different ways. But it always is a selfless act that for at least a moment, makes someone else’s life better. I know. Acts of kindness continue to fill every day of my life.

I have learned to expect the best from people and am rarely ever disappointed. There are times when I need help and today I am confident that I always can and will always find it. It turns out that the human race is a pretty good one to be a part of. My faith is restored. Kind people are kind people and there are plenty of them.

That has been my experience. What is your experience? Is the world a kind place? Or is it cruel? Do people really care about their fellow man? I would love to know about your experiences.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.


  1. Hi Michael,

    I think people are kind and would prefer to show that to others.

    Came by to say hello and wish you a good Halloween weekend.

  2. It's funny, because I have MS and really have no outward sign of disability. So when people find out, I almost have to get them to stop the tears. I've noticed, though, that some people in general can just be so rude. I've always opened doors for people---now that I have MS, I'm even more conscious of trying to help people.
    The saddest story I have, though, is my husband having to remove me from the ice cream cooler at Meijer, because someone in a Meijer scooter tried to run me down. Had he not grabbed me and moved me out of the way, I would have been roadkill! I wanted to shout that a year ago, I couldn't even open an ice cream cooler with my left hand, because it was basically paralyzed! I was literally standing there trying to pick out ice cream, and she was going to run me down!

    At my first MS patient dinner, I went into the bathroom to wash my hands beforehand, and there was a woman in a scooter asking for help. The other woman in the washroom ignored her, but I immediately said "what do you need me to do?" I helped lift her up and get back in her scooter. She didn't know I had MS. And I guess I just couldn't believe that the other person was outright ignoring her. When she wheeled into the dinner, she saw me and smiled. I had only been diagnosed for two months, so I was on the verge of crying. It was a very humbling moment for me.