Backpedaling toward kindness and human compassion
POSTEDAugust 22, 2004
Rush hour traffic hits, and I am stuck in the middle of it on my way home from campus. On the side of the road, I count a number of traffic accidents and stalled cars on the side of the road. And like most anxious rush hour traffic drivers, I think I can’t wait until I get past this accident so I can be on my way home.
My second thought is usually along the same lines. It is not until my third or fourth thought that I hope the person involved with the accident or stalled car is all right.
After my bicycle accident this past Wednesday, I have decided to readjust my thoughts.
While bicycling for my morning exercise in McKinney, I overestimated a hill on the service road that gets me to my apartment complex on Eldorado Parkway.
My new pet name for the hill is “Eldorado Diablo.”
In my overestimation of Eldorado Diablo, my legs gave out, and my foot slipped on my bike pedal. The result-a twisted ankle. I was about one mile from home and forced to hobble alongside my bike for that mile.
During this time, I heard the car horns bleeping swear words at me as I forced drivers to take the other lane to avoid hitting me. I saw drivers shaking their heads. One driver kept going in my same lane and forced me into the shoulder that was unsuitable for hobbling.
After the plethora of cars passed me, one couple from Memphis, Tenn., finally stopped to ask if I could use some help. They told me I looked like I needed help. I gladly accepted and was thankful for this bit of human compassion and kindness.
It was after this kindly couple helped me get my bicycle down from their truck and helped me into my apartment that I learned my lesson. I needed to stop backpedaling from kindness and have more compassion for those stranded passengers in need. In fact, I needed to practice having more human kindness everywhere I went.
While urban legends have us scared that stranded passengers are robbers or mass murderers, the truth is most people are just in need of a little help, a little human kindness. This goes for people in general as well.
However, the urban legends we grew up with have made all of us scared to do what is right. Though there may be one bad seed in a group of people who truly need help, we let the one bad seed scare us away from human kindness. The urban legends have done their job well.
However, after my bicycle accident, I am saying “no more.” Our entire country has come to the point that it is scared of everything. We are scared of homosexuals and the fact they want to marry. We are scared everyone is a terrorist. We are scared of people who check out certain types of books. We are so scared, we forget about human kindness and operate on a more basic principle of fear.
If fear generates fear, then maybe a little human kindness will generate more kindness toward others. This is a basic lesson I learned in Sunday school. Apparently, I have long forgotten the lesson. But I won’t forget it anymore.
No longer will I be afraid to have a real conversation with someone out of fear. I will help people because they need help. And I will feel compassion for and try to help those on the side of the road in need.
It took a kindly couple from Tennessee to show me the basic principles of human kindness. And this is a lesson a semester’s worth of classes could never teach me. I am thankful for those roadside professors who taught me what I should know how to do.