Random Acts of Kindness

Highlighting the Essence of our Humanity

There was something positive and uplifting that I noticed one morning recently as I went for my usual forty five minute walk in Taman Jaya in Petaling Jaya. That got me thinking about the value of random acts of kindness.

I noticed a senior gentleman, probably in his late sixties quietly picking up trash – discarded plastic bottles, styrofoam boxes, old newspapers, bottle caps, cigarette packets etc. He had some sort of device to assist him to pick up the bottles and in his other hand, he held a big plastic bag for the rubbish. He went about his task with a seriousness to match for about twenty minutes.

Chose to Clean Up the Park

As I walked further on, I noticed yet another gentleman, in his late fifties or early sixties, doing the same thing and with equal determination.

Both these men went about the task of cleaning up that area in the public park without any fuss and without the need for any encouragement. This is true, selfless, public spiritedness in action.

Both these gentlemen did not choose to adopt a ‘ I could not care less approach ‘ about the state of Taman Jaya. They chose instead to do what they could to clean up the area.

Many people visit the park in the mornings and in the evenings to exercise. Some do so to allow their small children to play in the games section of the park. There are also couples who frequent the park for some quiet time as well as senior citizens out for a leisurely stroll or a quiet chat with friends on the park benches.

On many occasions, I have noticed that some young individuals bring along MacDonald’s or KFC packets of food and others choose to bring Malaysian favourites like nasi lemak, fried noodles or rojak.

What is deplorable is the attitude of many of these people after they have finished their meals and the drinks … they just discard the empty food and drink packets all over the place!

This is the height of irresponsibility and a clear sign that they do not bother to be civic minded. There are many garbage bins all over the park and yet these inconsiderate individuals just act in such a brazen and indifferent manner.

Dedicates Time and Energy for the Elderly

There is also another interesting story that I came across when I visited Melbourne a few years ago. I met a former Malaysian, now in his mid seventies, who dedicates a half day each week for some elderly citizens in an old folks home.

He assists some of these old folks in two ways. He buys groceries for a few individuals who have difficulty attending to these mundane chores. These people give him a small list of items they wish to purchase and the money for those purchases. He then accomplishes the tasks and hands them the goods.

These are not great, earth shattering tasks as such but they go to the heart of what it is to be a truly caring person.

For another group of individuals, he helps them to stay in touch with relatives from overseas or in other cities in Australia. These individuals are not IT savvy and he undertakes to write brief letters for them, under their direction of course, to the relatives.

For some, he uses email to communicate but for a few, he types out the letter for them and then mails the letters to the individuals concerned.

These are not great, earth shattering tasks as such but they go to the heart of what it is to be a truly caring person. To religiously set aside time each week to assist these lonely senior citizens in meaningful ways and on a gratis basis is indeed noble and praiseworthy.

Ferrying Service and Companionship

I know of a former colleague of mine from my days as a high school teacher, who has rendered great service to a fellow colleague. This colleague had met with a serious motor accident and had fractured his right foot in two places.

The initial task of fixing the fractures was badly done by the attending surgeon and the unfortunate colleague had to suffer for sometime because of this gross incompetence.

Subsequently, he was advised to go for a second operation. He was referred to another so called expert surgeon and he underwent a second operation. Instead of getting better, this surgeon too messed it up and the foot was in a bad way. Finally, after many months of suffering, it took a third operation to get it sorted out for good and this was achieved. The colleague is now well on the way to a full recovery.

Through it all, there was one very sympathetic former colleague who went to his house to fetch him and then drove him to the hospital. He then waited for him, sometimes for hours, to be seen by the doctor before sending him back home. He did this act of service on numerous occasions because he wanted to be of some assistance. Very few know of this man’s kindness.

Going Out of the Way to Assist

Some years back, I had to drive up to Bukit Mertajam for an event. Since I live in Petaling Jaya, Selangor and I am not familiar with the area in Northern Malaysia, I was finding it difficult to locate the venue.

I pulled over to the side of the road, got down from my car and signalled to a motorcyclist for some assistance. A thirty plus year old gentleman stopped, removed his helmet and listened to my request sympathetically. He then offered to personally show me the way to the venue because it was not easy to give directions to that place.

Such random acts of kindness happen every single day in our lives.

I was surprised when he went the opposite way to where he was heading. He rode his motorcycle slowly and from time to time, stopped to make sure that I was following him. After about two kilometres, we had arrived at the destination. I got down from the car and went up to him to thank him profusely and offered him some ‘ cash for coffee ‘. He politely declined and remarked that he was happy to assist me and then went on his way.

In this instance, a complete stranger went out of his way to give directions to a person in need and he did it with such good grace and kindness. He could have said that he needed to get to his destination or that he could give me directions to the place.

He chose, however, to go out of his way to extend a hand of assistance to a total stranger.

Such random acts of kindness happen every single day in our lives.

Oftentimes, such praiseworthy acts do not get the publicity that they truly deserve. Very often instead, we are given a daily dose of nasty and horrible news, showcasing the worst aspects in our society.

Why is this so?

This happens because bad news makes excellent copy for the media and draws readers to its publication. It is time for us to focus more on the good all around us, if we care enough to discern, and draw inspiration from such random acts of kindness.

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