A Story of Kindness
Here is Will and Guy's collection of stories featuring a modern day Good Samaritan, or an act of selflessness.
Kindness Even During a War
We had just searched a small village that had been suspected of harbouring Viet Cong. We really tore the place up-it wasn't hard to do, but had found nothing.
Just up the trail from the village we were ambushed. I got hit and don't remember anything more until I woke up with a very old Vietnamese woman leaning over me. Before I passed out again I remembered seeing her in the village we had just destroyed and I knew I was going to die. When I woke again, the hole in my left side had been cleaned and bandaged, and the woman was leaning over me again offering me a cup of warm tea. As I was drinking the tea and wondering why I was still alive, a helicopter landed nearby to take me back.
The woman quietly got up and disappeared down the trail.
One act of kindness that befell British writer Bernard Hare in 1982 changed him profoundly. Then a student living just north of London, he tells the story to inspire troubled young people to help deal with their disrupted lives.
The police called at my student hovel early evening, but I didn't answer as I thought they'd come to evict me. I hadn't paid my rent in months.
But then I got to thinking: my mum hadn't been too good and what if it was something about her?
We had no phone in the hovel and mobiles hadn't been invented yet, so I had to nip down the phone box.
I rang home to Leeds to find my mother was in hospital and not expected to survive the night. "Get home, son," my dad said.
I got to the railway station to find I'd missed the last train. A train was going as far as Peterborough, but I would miss the connecting Leeds train by twenty minutes.
I bought a ticket home and got on anyway. I was a struggling student and didn't have the money for a taxi the whole way, but I had a screwdriver in my pocket and my bunch of skeleton keys.
I was so desperate to get home that I planned to nick a car in Peterborough, hitchhike, steal some money, something, anything. I just knew from my dad's tone of voice that my mother was going to die that night and I intended to get home if it killed me.
"Tickets, please," I heard, as I stared blankly out of the window at the passing darkness. I fumbled for my ticket and gave it to the guard when he approached. He stamped it, but then just stood there looking at me. I'd been crying, had red eyes and must have looked a fright.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Course I'm okay," I said. "Why wouldn't I be? And what's it got to do with you in any case?"
"You look awful," he said. "Is there anything I can do?"
"You could get lost and mind your own business," I said. "That'd be a big help." I wasn't in the mood for talking.
He was only a little bloke and he must have read the danger signals in my body language and tone of voice, but he sat down opposite me anyway and continued to engage me.
"If there's a problem, I'm here to help. That's what I'm paid for."
I was a big bloke in my prime, so I thought for a second about physically sending him on his way, but somehow it didn't seem appropriate. He wasn't really doing much wrong. I was going through all the stages of grief at once: denial, anger, guilt, withdrawal, everything but acceptance. I was a bubbling cauldron of emotion and he had placed himself in my line of fire.
The only other thing I could think of to get rid of him was to tell him my story.
"Look, my mum's in hospital, dying, she won't survive the night, I'm going to miss the connection to Leeds at Peterborough, I'm not sure how I'm going to get home.
"It's tonight or never, I won't get another chance, I'm a bit upset, I don't really feel like talking, I'd be grateful if you'd leave me alone. Okay?"
"Okay," he said, finally getting up. "Sorry to hear that, son. I'll leave you alone then. Hope you make it home in time." Then he wandered off down the carriage back the way he came.
I continued to look out of the window at the dark. Ten minutes later, he was back at the side of my table. Oh no, I thought, here we go again. This time I really am going to rag him down the train.
He touched my arm. "Listen, when we get to Peterborough, shoot straight over to Platform One as quick as you like. The Leeds train'll be there."
I looked at him dumbfounded. It wasn't really registering. "Come again," I said, stupidly. "What do you mean? Is it late, or something?"
"No, it isn't late," he said, defensively, as if he really cared whether trains were late or not. "No, I've just radioed Peterborough. They're going to hold the train up for you. As soon as you get on, it goes.
"Everyone will be complaining about how late it is, but let's not worry about that on this occasion. You'll get home and that's the main thing. Good luck and God bless."
Then he was off down the train again. "Tickets, please. Any more tickets now?"
I suddenly realised what a top-class, fully-fledged *doilem I was and chased him down the train. I wanted to give him all the money from my wallet, my driver's licence, my keys, but I knew he would be offended.
I caught him up and grabbed his arm. "Oh, er, I just wanted to..." I was suddenly speechless. "I, erm..."
"It's okay," he said. "Not a problem." He had a warm smile on his face and true compassion in his eyes. He was a good man for its own sake and required nothing in return.
"I wish I had some way to thank you," I said. "I appreciate what you've done."
"Not a problem," he said again. "If you feel the need to thank me, the next time you see someone in trouble, you help them out. That will pay me back amply.
"Tell them to pay you back the same way and soon the world will be a better place."
I was at my mother's side when she died in the early hours of the morning. Even now, I can't think of her without remembering the Good Conductor on that late-night train to Peterborough and, to this day, I won't hear a bad word said about British Rail.
My meeting with the Good Conductor changed me from a selfish, potentially violent hedonist into a decent human being, but it took time.
"I've paid him back a thousand times since then," I tell the young people I work with, "and I'll keep on doing so till the day I die. You don't owe me nothing. Nothing at all."
"And if you think you do, I'd give you the same advice the Good Conductor gave me. Pass it down the line."
Written by Bernard Hare
Stories of thoughtfulness, compassion and empathy which Will and Guy have resarched and are recorded here for your enjoyment.
His Action Changed My Life
I was living in Chicago and going through what was a particularly cold winter both in my personal life and the outside temperature. One evening I was walking home from a bar where I had been drinking alone, feeling sorry for myself, when I saw a homeless man standing over an exhaust grate in front of a department store. He was wearing a filthy sport coat and approaching everyone who passed by for money.
I was too immersed in my own troubles to deal with him so I crossed the street. As I went by, I looked over and saw a businessman come out of the store and pull a ski parka out of a bag and hand it to the homeless man. For a moment both the man and I were frozen in time as the businessman turned and walked away. Then the man looked across the street at me. He shook his head slowly and I knew he was crying.
It was the last time I have ever been able to disappear into my own
Be There: Simply Listen
Once, many years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy.
That morning I attended a college class in which the husband of a good friend was also a student. Most mornings we said hello to one another and that was about it - he would sit with his guy friends, and I usually sat alone. When he entered class that morning, he came and sat next to me. He never mentioned my mom, never talked about the situation at all...he just sat next to me and chatted a bit.
That was the day I learned that sometimes the kindest act is just to BE there...and I always remember this as one of the most touching acts of kindness I've ever received.
Written by Beth Fryer
A small boy at summer camp received a large package of cookies in the mail from his mother. He ate a few, then placed the remainder under his bed. The next day, after lunch, he went to his tent to get a cookie. The box was gone.
That afternoon a camp counsellor, who had been told of the theft, saw another boy sitting behind a tree eating the stolen cookies. "That young man," he said to himself, "must be taught not to steal."
He returned to the group and sought out the boy whose cookies had been stolen. "Billy," he said, "I know who stole your cookies. Will you help me teach him a lesson?"
"Well, yes--but aren't you going to punish him?" asked the puzzled boy.
The boy did as the counsellor asked and a few days later received another box of cookies in the mail.
"Now," said the counsellor, "the boy who stole your cookies is down by
the lake. Go down there and share your cookies with him."
Half an hour later the camp counsellor saw the two come up the hill, arm in arm. The boy who had stolen the cookies was earnestly trying to get the other to accept his jack-knife in payment for the stolen cookies, and the victim was just as earnestly refusing the gift from his new friend, saying that a few old cookies weren't that important anyway.
A Random Act of Kindness
I was a travelling nurse (just recently stopped) and one of the most wonderful times in my life was when I was driving north for Christmas....I found a $20 bill and decided to put it to use....
I paid for tolls for the people behind me and with that act of kindness--many smiles were brought to others faces as well as mine...some people caught up with me and waved thank you, some had cars full of kids and presents and the waves made my day...so random acts of kindness are wonderful and brought smiles to many people that day...the most fun was trying to get the toll takers to do it...they looked at me as if I had lost my mind when I said--I would like to pay the toll for the 3 people behind me...
But some of them really got into it...it is a special memory and one I hold in my heart every day.....
Written By Leslie Smith
Will and Guy feel that it's time to retell the story of kindness from which all others flow, namely the Good Samaritan.
One day while Jesus was preaching, a man asked Him a question. This man had spent many years studying God's law.
He said. "Teacher, what must I do to get to heaven?"
The man answered. "Love God and others as much as I love myself."
Jesus explained by telling this story.
"There once was a man walking from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was alone and the road he followed was rocky, with many twists and turns. Suddenly, the robbers jumped out of nowhere. They attacked the man, beat him up and stole everything he had, even his clothes.
The man lay bleeding to death on the side of the road and along came a priest. When he saw the man, he was so shocked, he stood and stared. The man could barely raise his head to beg for help but the priest only backed away. He tried not to look as he passed him as quickly as he could.
The man lay in the dirt, moaning until a religious leader came along, one who preached the laws of Moses. He saw the man, all covered in blood and dirt and making funny noises in the ditch. He thought, 'Oh, he looks terrible. I wouldn't ever want to touch him. Besides, I'm sure he's no one I know.' And he passed him by as well.
Then a Samaritan came walking along the road. The man who lay in the dirt was a Jew. Samaritans and Jews had been enemies for hundreds of years. Yet, the Samaritan came over to him. Very gently, he lifted the man's head and brushed the dust out of his mouth. He took some water and cleaned the man's eyes and gave him something to drink. He put wine on his wounds to clean them and make them heal quickly. Then, he carried the man and put him onto his donkey and brought him into town.
There, the Samaritan gave some money to an innkeeper. He said. "Put him in a clean bed and spend whatever you need to take good care of him until he is strong again".
"Now tell me," Jesus added, "which of these three men was a true neighbor to the man who was robbed?"
The expert in Jewish law did not need to think very long. He said, "The one who helped him of course."
Jesus then told him. "Then go and do just the same."
Paresh, an Indian carpenter I once hired to help me restore my old farmhouse had just finished a difficult and hard first day on the job. A flat tyre on his lorry made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw packed in, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, Paresh sat in stony, thoughtful silence.
On arriving, Paresh, in the way of all Indian gentlefolk, invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.
When opening the door to his home, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.
After a cup of tea, he walked me to my car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
'Oh, that's my trouble tree,' Paresh replied. 'I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again. Funny thing is', he smiled winningly, 'when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.'
Life Philosophy: 10 Inspirational Quotations
A Story of Kindness
In days gone by, two brothers, Raul and Johan, who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 35 years of farming side-by-side in central Germany, sharing machinery, and trading labour and goods as needed without a single problem occurring.
However, one autumn, the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence between the two brothers.
One morning there was a knock on Raul's door. He opened it to find a man holding a carpenter's toolbox. 'I'm looking for a few days work,' Angelis said. 'Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?'
'Yes,' answered Raul, extremely pleased to see Angelis the carpenter, 'I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbour, in fact, it's my younger brother, Johan's farm. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll go him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence; an 8-foot fence, so I won't need to see Johan's place nor his face anymore.'
Angelis the carpenter said thoughtfully, 'I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you.'
Raul then left for the nearby town, Erfurt, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing, and hammering.
About sunset when Raul returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.
It was a bridge: a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other. A fine piece of work handrails and all, and the neighbour, his younger brother Johan, was coming across, his hand outstretched. 'You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done, 'Johan smiled.
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. 'No, wait. Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you,' called Raul.
'I'd love to stay on,' Angelis murmured quietly, 'but, I have many more bridges to build.'
A grandmother and a little girl whose face was sprinkled with bright red freckles spent the day at the zoo. The children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger paws.
'You've got so many freckles, there's no place to paint!' a boy in the line cried.
Embarrassed, the little girl dropped her head. Her grandmother knelt down next to her. 'I love your freckles,' she said.
'Not me,' the girl replied.
'Well, when I was a little girl I always wanted freckles,' she said, tracing her finger across the child's cheek. 'Freckles are beautiful!'
The girl looked up. 'Really?'
'Of course,' said the grandmother. 'Why, just name me one thing that's prettier than freckles.'
The little girl peered into the old woman's smiling face. 'Wrinkles,' she answered softly.
Sisterly Love - Inspirational Act of Kindness
Will and Guy were touched by this example of sisterly love. We hope that you will be moved by the pictures and video demonstrating a sister's love for her brother.
A little girl picks up, then empties her wash bag.
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