Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Deliberate Acts of Kindness (4.7.09)

I never cease to be amazed after earthquakes and other disasters which leave victims calling for help or bodies in the rubble.  Just as most of us feel drawn to intervene when we hear a baby crying - there is a similar impulse to intervene when crisis occurs:  The cry of someone from collapsed rubble, the plight of people in a downed plane or a sinking ship,  the fate of someone who falls into the path of a subway train or is buried in an avalanche or trapped in a burning building - these latter events seem to call forth heroism in ordinary people, who often reject the term "hero".  But ordinary people do put their lives at risk for strangers in a crisis.  They throw caution to the wind and enter collapsed buildings.  They risk injury or death in an effort to rescue the living.  And even after hope is lost, strangers will help to retrieve the bodies of the dead.

So important is human life and worth that we will do almost anything to try and save it.  And failing that, we will do almost anything to honor the dead, who cannot be saved - whether we know them or not. 

This is a tribute to the human spirit.  To the care and concern we have as fellow humans.  Even for strangers.  It moves me every time.  We rejoice for those brought out alive.  And we grieve for those brought out dead.

If only we had the same care and concern for everyone - all the time.  Not just in a crisis.



The people who call to ask after friends (not even family!) who are having a difficult time for whatever reason.
Someone who calls in an incident where anyone needs professional/medical assistance.
We can all do some of these things every day.
It only takes a few seconds for any of us to give a small bit of help where it's needed.
That's so true. And honestly it makes me very, very happy to see the blogs on kindness that up right now. Especially:
You're right. It takes so little time. What is more precious than a person?
And if we extend that, health care is so vital. Education is so vital. A safe and pure planet is so vital. And on and on.

I've now linked to amike's blog in the post itself.
I think grouch has touched on something here. People, or an awful lot of people, do acts of kindness every day.
These acts of kindness should be remembered and recalled and written down.
Why not here?
Or I'll do a blog for Stage 7. And 8. And we can record acts of kindness or people of kindness.
Please do.
Your wish is my command.... (in a day or two)
HAHAHAH!!! I know the wait will be worth it.
Beautiful avatar, by the way!
Thanks! I likes it too.
Acts of kindness need to be the norm, (our first reaction as individuals and collective society) not the exception.
Preplanned acts of kindness interspersed with random acts of kindness will only benefit all.
Yes, kindness should be the norm. We try to teach that to little children. They say "Mine!" And we teach them to share. Tiny tots have been shown to instinctively want to help others who appear to be having difficulties - difficulties within their power to help of course. Like dropping things that need to be picked up.
So there is something "wired" into us at an early age. Could be our mirror neurons. I'm not sure.
So what happens to interfere with that? That's something I'm going to mull over. As it seems to fit with these stages I'm thinking about. (This post could have been titled part of the series - but it seemed to me a desecration of the topic to do that.)
Thanks for your wisdom and your kindness. :)
My hope is optimism will bring the world more kindness.
I do see small acts of kindness around me; my niece's class donated their hair for cancer victims, my wife making a donation in memory a friends parent, someone with kind words to a fellow blogger.
Thank you for your hopeful post, TheraP.
The best portion of a good man's life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. -
William Wordsworth
Thanks for your comment and the wonderful Wordsworth quote, Steve.
In the darkest times, I keep in mind how there are many (what I call) "pockets of goodness" in the universe. Many, many unsung, unknown kind acts and kind people. I also like to think that when we do kind things, it adds to the "store" of goodness in the universe - as if it were like a kind of "energy" we created, through kindness, an energy that somehow endures. That's what I like to think. And who can disprove it? So I hang onto it.
That's why I think we should never neglect even the smallest act of kindness. Each one increases that "store" of goodness. And boy do we need it!
I don't want to give too cerebral of a response, but it's the best I've got.
When I was a staunch believer in the unrestrained free market and enlightened self-interest, it was these deliberate acts of kindness that kept me from falling off the deep end.
How, I eventually asked, are people choosing their self-interest when you jump in front of a car to save someone? The answer from my enlightened self-interested friends was always, "well, you must value their life more than your own."
But (as Thera points out) what if you don't know the person you save?
"Well, you don't value your own life then," they say.
But if you don't value your own life, what reason would you have for valuing someone else's life? In the same vein, if you don't value your own life, what reason would you have for valuing Life as a process?
"You must not value Life as a process."
But you jumped in front of the car deliberately to save a life. Therefore you value Life as a process.
"Then you value Life as a process."
So you're claiming that you both value Life as a process and you don't value Life as a process?
"Yes. It's possible to hold conflicting views."
Is it possible to act without a preference?
But you did act?
Action indicates preference?
An action to preserve Life as a process indicates a preference for Life as a process?
So it is in your self-interest to preserve Life as a process?
"Given my actions, yes."
Then your self-interest includes everyone's interest, since everyone is part of Life as a process?
"Everyone is part of it, so yes."
Then you can only act rationally if you understand the interest of everyone?
Then the 'self' in self-interest includes everyone?
How do you find out everyone's interest?
"Communicate with them."
And that communication is rational?
"It would have to be."
Then you would be reasoning as a group of people?
"I suppose so."
And that reasoning is the most rational kind of reasoning?
"It seems that way."
Then the process of reasoning collectively is in your enlightened self-interest?
And how do you understand Life?
"Through reason."
And the most effective reasoning is interactive?
"We've established that."
So you can only understand Life through interaction?
"That seems to be the case."
So the meaning of Life is only possible--rationally of course--through interpersonal relationships?
"I'm left with no other choice."
Then the impulse to save a life, even if the person is a stranger, is a rational impulse?
"By definition."
Then the flip-side must also be true?
"What do you mean?"
If it's rational to save the life of a stranger, then it must also be rational to improve the life of a stranger.
"Oh, I see."
Does that mean yes?
"I can't say no."
Then you agree?
You do realize this means your going to have to change a lot of things about the way you live your life?
"{extended exhale} Yeah."
That is so beautiful! That is full of wisdom and generosity of spirit! Thank you, MBH!
Comment by email - from Chris:
I'm reminded of the tragic I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis. There were people who got out of their cars and risked life and limb to help those trapped in the rubble. That's one of the great aspects of the human spirit. At a time when it seems we can't seem to get more greedy, with corporate executives taking bonuses when their companies have billion dollar losses, these acts of bravery by ordinary people remind us of all the great aspects of the human spirit.
ah but therap some people do show care and concern about people all the time just not a lot and it doesn't get news coverage like disasters do
Yes, I know that. You are correct. That's why I think of those "pockets of goodness" - and you are clearly one of them. I think many of these people, like you, are just regular working people. I have wonderful conversations with such people everywhere I go on errands.
Thanks for your comment, redneck. And your posts! And for keeping things positive. :)
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Gandhi said it best:
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
Good post TheraP!
You've quoted the right person! Thanks, oleeb. :)

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