“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” ~ Thomas Merton
Today, the 4th of July, I was walking to an appointment when I saw an elderly man fall and crumble onto the sidewalk, his wife crying out, “Help, Help!”
Instantly two young men rose from the side walk café to his rescue, lifting him up. He was obviously stunned and didn’t know what had happen. Arriving on the scene just behind the young men, I suggested he sit down on one of the café chairs. Reaching down over his leg, he pulled up his pant leg over his supportive sock to see the damage—only a skinned knee.
One of the young men offered to get him ice, I offered to get him water, but smiling up at us he said he was fine. He said, “I have a weak heart so…” gesturing down at his legs.
We continued to hover. He still seemed bewildered or maybe short of breath, we didn’t know.
Then one of the young men said, “Oh, you tripped over this broken piece of concrete!”
I added, “It could have happened to anyone. It’s happened to me in another part of town.”
At this point both he and his wife looked relieved.
Then I asked them if they had a long way to go. The wife responded, “No, we just left the doctor’s office! And we’re just a block away from the bus stop.”
We were all relieved now, but as the elderly man stood up, he took the time to shake each of our hands and to thank us before heading away toward the bus stop with his smiling wife.
Such moments of kindness rarely get reported, yet they are the fabric of society.
People are basically kind. In little moments like this, we act unhesitatingly, in an instinctively human, interdependent way. We do not need to contemplate isolation or independence, or interdependence for that matter. Without second thoughts, we respond.
I am all for independent bookstores, restaurants, grocery stores, and the like. They are little human societies where kindness is most evident. But away from the heat of the moment, it does seem beneficial to reflect that we are all interdependent, not just humans, but animals, earth, air, water, sunshine, space—and that everyday is interdependent day!
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Assistant Ed: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Brianna Bemel