Tell me

Well, friends, I have written 433 blog posts and now I think it’s time for you to do some work. I have an important question to ask and I would like people to answer it.

It all started yesterday. I was talking with the very famous Sima, the person who keeps my fingernails from falling off (yes, falling off… not exactly like leprosy, but just as ugly and painful) and she was telling me about someone she met who was a truly kind person. She talked about how this person was caring and giving and completely unselfish and told me that she has to be a very rare person. Well, I thought, she does sound very kind and caring, but I don’t know if she is very rare. In my experience, most of the people I meet and most of the people I know could be thought of in the very same way. Every day I see people being kind to others. I see people going out of their way for others. I think that the unkind person is the exception.

Granted, out on the road, especially in Israel, people can act most uncharitably. Some people seem to get a kick out of keeping others from changing lanes, from driving at the speed limit, from stopping for pedestrians– but get those same people in situation where help is needed, and I’m guessing they would be running over each other to be of help- even to a complete stranger.

So there’s the question. What’s your experience? Are people basically good and kind and giving or are they mean and selfish?

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  1. I think most people are a mix of both and which side of them you see is often luck of the draw.

  2. I think people are mostly kind. Sometimes they just have to be given an opportunity to reach out and help others or inspired by an example set by someone else. As “Social Action Chair” of my synagogue I frequently ask people to work on a project or donate to those less fortunate. And they do.

    Of course, there are those who are so busy playing golf or bridge or shopping they can never quite find the time to help, but most people can be counted on to show kindness and caring. And those that can’t are not my friends…

  3. There are two of us in every one of us. Even the most evil creature does not think of them self as such, and will at times stop to let a squirrel cross the road. And I have seen pastors that when they got behind a steering wheel turned from G-D’s servants to agents of the Devil, for whom speed limits are mere suggestions.
    “What’s in it for me?” is the mantra for the now-generation. But as we age the kindness factor increases as we get nearer to our Maker.
    I have seen so many elder California gentlemen taking their “nieces” to lunch, and their “grand-daughters” to supper that it must be a sign of elder kindness.

  4. On a more serious side, can one relate kindness to compassion. I can be kind to a pet but there is no compassion. If I am considerate to another human am I also kind and caring? My wife is taking classes on becoming a compassionate person and feeling for the down trodden in 3rd world countries. I do not think that that is a kindness. My hope and wish is that all men/women treat each other with respect; but that is not kindness.
    If all men/women were basically good and kind and giving. why is there so much poverty and suffering. Why do charities have to beg for $$$. We receive at least 7 requests in the mail every single week asking for $donations$ They always include photos of waifs or homeless or native huts. We feel sad, but because we cannot trust who will receive the $$$ we only give to the dozen charities that we know have low overhead or where we know the actual distributor of funds. eg. a priest in Nirobi who is buiding a school and who we have met in person.
    When charities spend $$$$ on mailings and less than 15% of collected funds on the poor, their requests get shredded. Is that a lack of kindness, a lack of goodness, a lack of caring.
    To give when not asked. To receive aid when not asked for, is a mitzva writen somewhere.
    Go see “slumDogMillionaire” for both humanities ills and loves triumphant.

  5. I think people are mostly kind if you appraoch them in a like fashion. We are having a special needs seder at our shul (organized by Gail) and I am amazed at how many people want to help – with their children. People never cease to amaze me with how much they want to reach out!

  6. Last night while on my nightly mall-walk for exercise I saw a child in a stroller drop her toy. The parents did not see it drop. A stranger picked it up and ran after them to return it. KINDNESS.

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