By Richard Bleil
It’s been a tough day for my friend. She’s a single mother, medical expenses are growing, and her hours are being cut. She is in a desperate situation and decided to try to ask for financial help online, something that I myself have had to do recently. It’s a difficult thing to do, taking real courage to admit, especially so publicly, that you need help. But, it was more difficult for her.
See, one of her “friends” on her social media page started giving her grief about it.
What is it about some people that they feel the need to hurt a person when they are already down? It’s something that I will never understand. Her posts somehow became more desperate as the night progressed, and I began to worry more about her. As such, I convinced her to speak with me. I’m certainly not a therapist, and I don’t know her all that well, but I think highly of her, and thought she could at least use a friend and maybe release some steam if she had somebody with whom she could speak.
The Native people (whom I have spoken of in the past) use the term “Mother Earth”. Being very spiritually connected to nature, they believe that we, all of us, come from the same “Mother Earth”. This makes us all brothers and sisters. In short, we are one family. So why don’t we act like it?
In the Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu wrote about the cycles of life; the Yin and the Yang. This refers to the up and the down, the dark and the light principle that are constantly flowing one into the other. The Tao te Ching reminds us that when we are up, a down is on the way and vice versa. It helps us to both get through hard times by remembering that it won’t last forever, and temper our good times.
I know that she will get through this. There will be a day that this will be but a distant memory during brighter days, but I want to help her today. I had a pretty good day myself, so as she is in the depths of her dark principle, I was more or less in my light.
If you think about the mathematics of this idea, that means that at any given time, about half of us are up while half are down (more or less). When we are up, we have choices as to what we can do for those of us that are down. Often times, we tend to ignore those that are struggling. In New York City, the first day at least three people told me that I should just ignore the homeless, saying that within a week I won’t even notice them anymore. Personally, I found it a bit offensive. I never wanted to be the kind of person that can turn a blind eye to the plight of others, and on the day I left, I still saw every homeless person I passed.
We are one family. When one of us is down, it affects all of us. When I’m down, I like to perform acts of random kindness. Not too long ago, I bought a drink for a stranger in a gas station. I hope that this act put the recipient into a better mood, which would propagate that happiness. What did this person do who insulted my friend when she finally found the courage to reach out for extra help?
I know that I live in an idealistic world. There do not seem to be many people like me, who would rather lift people up than drag them down, be a buoy rather than an anchor. But I understand this. I recognize that the world is not always as happy as I wish it was, and I know that my actions are the exceptions rather than the rule. But, you know, that’s okay. I agree with the quote (often attributed to Einstein) that I would rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.
Maybe, just maybe, I am making a difference. Maybe tomorrow, my friend’s day will be a little bit better because I listened to her tonight. Maybe somebody notices some kindness I try to give and decides that they should try to do the same. Maybe I’ll never have a positive impact on this world at all, but I would rather fail trying to make the world a little bit brighter than accept the darkness it seems to have become.