Friday Freebies: The Complexity of Kindness

Last night, I sat by the side of the road, watching my friend hold the hand of a drunk, suicidal guy, and I held my cell in my hand, listening to the 911 dispatch and waiting for the ambulance.

And all I could think of was, “When he was five, he didn’t plan on growing up to be a drunk.” He didn’t graduate high school and say to himself, “Yeah, when I’m fifty-five, I want to collapse on the side of the road and have strangers coming to my aide.”

Is it kindness or enabling to phone for help?  Is it kindness or enabling to say to him, “This isn’t supposed to be how you die. Please hold on.”

My grandfathers were alcoholics and I lived with an alcoholic, so I’m the least-likely person to have sympathy for addicts.  But this guy got to me. Maybe because I saw the child he must have been, maybe because I saw in him the ghosts of What Might Be for the children who surround me now.

I don’t know.

I do know that I was moved by the people who stopped to make sure he was okay.

Kindness.

It really is the glue that binds strangers together, whether it was me and my friend with the man, the strangers who stopped to help, the lady who my husband & I allowed to go ahead of us at the Tim Horton’s and who reciprocated by buying our breakfast, kindness disintegrates barriers, and reinforces the idea that in this world, we really are in it together.

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