by Bil Aulenbach

A Simple Act of Kindness

These days, I am hard pressed to find one positive story in the newspapers. They all seem to focus on negative issues like COVID-19, the neverending elections, Washington’s problems, wars all over the world, and the travesty on our southern border.

One recent story in the Los Angeles Times featured an Orange County sheriff’s deputy who was just promoted to sergeant—a few months after he was caught mishandling evidence.

Another ongoing story in local news outlets follows the struggles of a group of homeless mothers and their children who occupied a vacant house in Oakland, California. In January 2020, a small army of police in full battle array forcibly evicted these families. Yikes!

After reading the newspapers last Sunday, I decided to check my email. On the Yahoo! homepage, I spotted an article with a picture of a black policeman sitting cross legged by a curb and speaking with a white woman who was sitting against a pole and wearing a T-shirt with the word “homeless” on it.

The photo sucked me in. What happened at that encounter? The story said that Officer Michael Rivers passed by the unnamed woman and noticed her T-shirt, which said “Homeless: the fastest way of becoming a nobody.” Did he arrest her? No—he asked if she was hungry. She replied yes, so Officer Rivers bought them a pizza and sodas. They ate together on the grass, and he asked her about her life. The woman was obviously thrilled that another human being—a police officer—had taken the time to humanize her. I wished an interviewer had asked her how this act of kindness affected her life.

That story made my day and reminded me how one simple act of kindness can have unbelievable power and force. Though I’m currently quarantined at home, this story reminded me that I need to do at least one act of kindness every day.

Officer Rivers shared this bit of wisdom: “Hey, treating the community like human beings is the most important thing in the world. . . . So if we as police officers show that love and compassion to everybody, no matter their age, financial background, or race, the world would be a better place.”

Can you imagine how law enforcement would change if every prison, community, and police department adopted Officer Rivers’s attitude?

If our leaders spread this kind of message during the current pandemic, it could radically transform how we deal with catastrophes.

As for me, I was inspired to create a list of people to call so I can tell them that they are in my thoughts and ask how they’re coping with this epidemic.

Did the story of Officer Rivers and the homeless woman inspire you too?

 

Image courtesy of Nikk (CC BY 2.0)

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