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)

4 Responses to A Simple Act of Kindness

  • Yes, it did. We had a woman and her husband who attended our church for several weeks. On day a couple of months ago she came alone. I went back to sit with her and she said her husband had left her for another woman. She was quietly sobbing. We keep Kleenex in the pocket of our chairs in the sanctuary and I got her a package of those and put my arm around her. That’s when she told me Daniel had left her for another woman. She was heartbroken. I kept my arm around her and pattedher on the arm. We were on the back row but the presider noticed us and after the service took he aside and told her we were going to pray her her and that we were so glad she had come on to church where there were people who cared about her and fpr support.

    She came every Sunday and every Sunday we gave her the emotional support she needed. This week, she texted me to tell us she and her daughter were moving to Tulsa Oklahoma where her daughter had found a job. She thanked us for all the support we had been and said she would not have got through the past couple of months without us. I gave her the addresses of two of our congregations in Tulsa. Our congregations are all closed now because of the Colonavirus but hopefully I can find one of the pastors in Tulsa and send her that information. I have her e-mail address.

  • I loved this story, and Marge’s. I completely agree that if every person did a simple act of kindness everyday, our world would be a better place. Why is it so hard for people to simply love?

  • Amazing post. Articles that have meaningful and insightful remarks are more enjoyable, at least to me.
    It is interesting to read what other people thought and how it relates to their customers, as
    their perspective could possibly assist you later on.
    King regards,
    Demir Dencker

    • Thank you, Demir for your email. It is amazing to me that during this time so many people are being so thoughtful and uplifting. My wife and I were taking our daily power walk and some child had written in chalk about 5 positive messages on the sidewalks. People have called and offered to do our shopping for us and on-an-on. I have to work along the assumption that people are born good and not bad. The church doesn’t like me to say but, having worked in jails and prisons, I have met so many good people who did something bad. But most of them wanted to be good. PeaceLoveJoyHope

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