When I was a young woman at Indiana University my humanities professor asked us to write a paper on our opinion of the goodness of man. Is man inherently good? Or is man inherently bad? For anyone who knows me you can probably guess that I chose…man is inherently good.
And over the years, I’ve held to that. Sometimes, I must admit, it has been hard. When I’ve been in situations where it’s hard to believe people can be mean, horrid, destructive and evil I would think back to that paper I wrote and say to myself, “yes, I still believe man is basically good…no matter what.” I believe in the kindness of mankind.
And as I moved through my life with it’s ups and downs…alone as a single mom, scared when it was up to me to make ends meet, frustrated that I might lose my way and thus, lose my own heart. And being a movie and literature lover- I started defining myself by two literary characters.
Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind in the scene where she holds up her fist in the dreary evening light after she finds one single potato in the garden and claims “As God as my witness, I’ll never go hungry again.”
And Blanche Dubois in Streetcar Named Desire when she says, “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
And just yesterday as I was skittering about, I lost my wallet. Credit cards, cash and lots of personal information was now in the hands of strangers. Retracing my steps, sadly, it was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t turned in to any of the places I had been. The security agents at the mall told me it was probably gone. Cancel everything.
And I remembered…me and Blanche. Both of us have always depended on the kindness of strangers. I remembered last winter wehn I was caught in freezing temperatures with a broken car and a family showed up on a cold dark road in rural Indiana and helped me. Kindness from strangers.
And I remembered when I was at the State Fair and left my IPhone in the restroom only to remember an hour later. And a stranger had turned it in at the fair office. Kindness from a stranger.
And I know what it is like to be in India lost at a political rally of thousands and coming upon women who not only did not know me but also didn’t speak my language yet took me into their arms and helped me find my way. Kindness from strangers.
I have coexisted meaningfully for fleeting moments with strangers I will never see again…forged fast friendships with people who were strangers when I met them through happenstance and are now key to my life, had flat tires mended on the side of the road by Good Samaritan strangers and strangers have joined me on my journey to make a difference in the world through Women Like Us Foundation.
The kindness of strangers, aw yes, we DO have one another and I DO believe man is inherently good. And in the last 24 hours, I held on to this belief.
Enter Enrique. A kind stranger. A knock on my door. And there he stood. Did you lose a wallet? It had been almost 24 hours. The cash was gone, but everything else was in tact. He found it in the local park. He could have ignored it. He got in his car and brought it to me.
Yes, there were strangers that took my cash. In this economy I am happy for them to have it.
I continue to rely on the kindness of strangers. Maybe not DEPEND, like Blanche, but BELIEVE.
I look forward to the kind strangers I’ll meet on my journey in 2015.
Happiness and Blessings to all…