Monday, April 25, 2005

Story time

I got this in my email today. I have received it before quite some time back. It’s a good story and I would like to share it here.

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I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called "Smile." The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions.

I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway, so, I thought this would be a piece of cake, literally. Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald's one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son.

We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch... an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.

As I turned around I smelled a horrible "dirty body" smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was "smiling". His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God's Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, "Good day" as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend.

I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted.

He said, "Coffee is all Miss" because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm).

Then I really felt it - the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman's cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Thank you." I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, "Don’t mention it. Just doing my bit for a fellow human being. Have a good day.”

I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, "I am so proud of you, honey. That is why I married you, your compassion towards others knows no bounds.” We held hands for a moment. We looked at the two men and I realised how powerful and significant a simple act of kindness could be.

That day showed me the need to make the first move towards helping others. I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in "my project" and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, "Can I share this?"

I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of a shared existence on Earth, have a need to heal people and to be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald's, my husband, son, instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn: unconditional acceptance. Much love and compassion is sent to each and every person who may read this and learn how to love people and use things, not love things and use people.

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Now, isn’t that an inspiring story? In our brief existence, whereby we will all die one day, I feel it is only right and appropriate to make our and other people’s time here a little better and more joyous. I believe that people are inherently good, and given the opportunity, we would help others.

I don’t like to suffer, and I am certain no one does. Even seeing others suffer is enough to elicit a scintilla of compassion. It is only natural and instinctive, just like we smile when we feel happy. It is a pretty simple notion.

If you have read that story before, I am sure you would have noticed that it was different. Yup, I actually changed it a little. I changed the last four paragraphs. Below is the actual version.

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.... I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, "I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope."

I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, "That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope." We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.

We are not church goers, but we are believers. That day showed me the pure Light of God's sweet love. I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in "my project" and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, "Can I share this?"

I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God share this need to heal people and to be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald's, my husband, son, instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn: unconditional accceptance. Much love and compassion is sent to each and every person who may read this and learn how to love people and use things, not love things and use people.

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According to this, the writer seemed to be implying that she wouldn’t have done it if not for God. Apparently, God was working through her by controlling her actions (leaning over and patting the man’s hand). God also whispered earlier in her ear to buy them a meal.

But God didn’t whisper to the others. So should the two men feel hopeful and loved, as only person showed compassion? Let’s assume that there were ten other people. Which meant the other ten were cold-hearted. The world is still a pretty bad place to live in, as there are more selfish people than good ones.

The moral of the story is that if it wasn’t for God, the writer wouldn’t have done what she did. She would have reacted like the others. She would have pretended that the two men weren’t there and they didn’t need anything from her.

And what if she did? Or it is just unfathomable that if it weren’t God, she wouldn’t have bought them meals?

Also, is it not possible that everyone who was there ignored the two homeless men? What can we conclude then? That God didn’t want to give the men hope?

My point is that, we should take responsibility for our actions. Ever heard of the word called free will? The writer could have help or didn’t or the others could have help or didn’t, it’s all human behaviour, which is shaped by various factors such as upbringing, education, genes, family and friends, etc.

Why bring God unthinkingly and also unfairly into our actions all the time? Doesn’t he have other more important things to do, like defeating the angel of darkness or something?

1 comment:

Lawrence said...

Well you dont really know what went on within the lady - in her mind, in her heart - as she decided to buy the poor men breakfast.

She said it was God who made her do it.

Why do you not believe her?

Perhaps if it was you standing there, and you too bought them breakfast, then you may have your reasons.

But there is no point speculating the reasons, until a similar thing is to happen in your life. Then you tell us why you do what you do.

I will not dismiss the "God made me do it" hypothesis so simplistically.

Do you think it was easy for anyone in her position to do what she did?

The freedom that Jesus set you free into is precisely the freedom to do what the woman did, despite all forces against it.

I am sure you can imagined yourself in her position. I have been in such positions too. The smell, the sight, the eyes all on you. It is unbearable.

I failed.