The art of kindness

    A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So, too, a Levite when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

    But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day, he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper.

    “Look after him,” the Samaritan told the innkeeper, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

    Of course, you are very familiar with the story above.  It was Jesus Christ who shared this “parable of the good Samaritan,” as recorded by Saint Luke (Chapter 10:30-35), after those “experts in the law” asked him, “Who is my neighbor?”

    “Which of these three men do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Jesus asked them.  “The one who had mercy on him,” someone replied.

    What the Good Samaritan displayed was actually kindness in action.  “Kindness is more than deeds,” said C. Neil Strait.  “It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch.  It is anything that lifts another person.”

    Action speaks louder than words.  If you want to be kind to others, just do it.  Amelia Earthart once pointed out, “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”

    I was reminded of the story shared to me by my journalist friend, Alan C. Robles.  Twenty-eight-year-old Brent came to the Philippines and was stranded on the streets with no money.  To anyone who believes all those hair-raising news stories about this country, his future could be summed up in two words: “dead meat.”

    But Brent discovered that a visitor’s fate here is not determined by news reports, but by the kindness of people.  And the kindness he was shown has made him rethink the popular image of the Philippines as a hostile place.

    It was his second trip to the Philippines and he wanted to see his fiancée in the southern part of the country.   According to him, the first time he came here, his friends in Portland, Oregon, were aghast. They told the truck driver that he was going to a dangerous place – and little wonder. News stories and travel advisories harped on about bombings, lawlessness and criminality.

    Curiously enough, Brent’s first trip was uneventful. It was the second which put him to the test. When he arrived, he found that because of some glitch, the cash machines at the airport would not accept his card. He spent most of the few dollars he had taking a cab to a motel, where he stayed prior to catching an early flight to the province of his beloved.

    The next day, after spending the rest of his cash on a taxi to the airport, he found he had been driven to the wrong building – the correct one was several kilometers away. He had no money, he was at the wrong terminal and his plane was leaving in an hour.  Desperately, he tried running there with his entire luggage, but would never have made it if a cab driver had not pulled up beside him and asked if he needed a ride.

    When the American explained his predicament, the driver became upset that Brent might be getting a bad impression of the Philippines. And so he told him to hop in.

    But his problems were not over yet. At the airport, the gate agent told him he needed 100 pesos departure tax, and 500 pesos for excess baggage. When Brent told him that he had no money, and explained how he had been unable to withdraw any cash, the agent paid the amount out of his own pocket.

    In the end, because of two strangers who stepped in when he needed the help, Brent succeeded in meeting his fiancée.  As you read this piece, the two might already have been married. 

    Brent said that he got the names and telephone numbers of the people who helped him, but only after being insistent. Reflecting on his experience in what is supposed to be a dangerous country, he pondered: “It’s hard to imagine this kind of hospitality could be repeated anywhere else in the modern era. Maybe my story could change a few more minds as to what a great traveling destination the Philippines is.”

    “When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel,” observed Harold Kushner.

    According to famous author Henry James, there are three things in human life that are important.  “The first,” he said, “is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.” But why should we be kind to others?  Marc Estrin has this answer: “Kindness trumps greed: it asks for sharing. Kindness trumps fear: it calls forth gratefulness and love. Kindness trumps even stupidity, for with sharing and love, one learns.”

    There are also several ways of showing kindness.  Chinese philosopher Lao-Tse said, “Kindness in words creates confidence.  Kindness in thinking creates profundity. Kindness in giving creates love.”

    “I choose kindness,” famous inspiration author Max Lucado declared.  “I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.”

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