Being constantly bombarded with reports of savage violence and cruelty, it's easy to mistake humanity for being a cruel and selfish lot, possessing few, if any, redeeming virtues.
I think such an appraisal of humanity, in general, would be a mistake though.
Like most people, I was beginning to feel dispirited by the media's constant rehashing of Monday's tragedy when I decided to visit my Facebook feed. The top two posts caught my eye, the first having been posted by my friend, Ferrah.
"I've been buying sandwiches for homeless people, for the last week, without having any interaction with them prior to going in to a store/restaurant, such as the fridge section at Rite Aid, The Bodega, or McDonald's. It's super fun and the looks of surprise and/or sincere gratitude are fantastic. You should try it."
Below this recommendation to adopt generous behavior as a part of one's routine, I found a notice stating that my long time pal, Molly, had "liked" the following organization.
"Just Give A Cup: Introducing compassion into our community through coffee.
Our missions are simple.
1: To provide those who lack possession with the means to stay a small amount more comfortable during the coldest time of the year.
2: To inspire a community to see beyond an appearance and become willing to recognize that all people can become friends and be seen as equally valuable members of the world we live in."
There, back to back, were two good examples of people being kind and going out their way to restore dignity to strangers. The posts made me stop and reflect on the nature of humanity.
Due to my personal circumstances, I am the daily recipient of an awe inspiring amount of compassion and care, from family and friends, which I never cease to be grateful for. Beyond my personal sphere however, there exists a world primarily based on love, compassion, a beneficence.
Think about it. We have created a public infrastructure to attempt to feed the hungry, house the disabled, and heal the sick. Yes, we fall short many times, because we don't know how to fully accomplish these goals. Yet, I sincerely doubt society would prioritize such goals unless we were fundamentally motivated by goodness.
According to FundraisingHQ.com, ABC's 20/20 reported that three-quarters of American families donate money to charity, giving an average of $1,800 per household each year. Additionally, millions of volunteers give their time to schools, hospitals, fire stations, police offices, parks, places of worship, soup kitchens, libraries, and other community oriented institutions in order to make their part of the world a better place.
Beyond the officially recognized acts of charity lie everyday acts of kindness which make life work. Helping the neighbor in with her groceries, running to the pharmacy to buy cough syrup for someone who can't get out, cooking dinner for a recently widowed family, bailing a stranger out when he finds himself a nickel short at Starbucks' register, and a multitude of other common niceties all testify to the fact that we're a species motivated by kindness and love.
When acts of cruel depravity monopolize headlines, it becomes easy to overlook humanity's general spirit of goodness. Keep in mind though, such acts make the news precisely because they are shocking exceptions to the rule.
Normally this section features topic related products for readers can purchase to support this blog. However, this time you'll find a list of charities you can contribute to.
AIDS Research Alliance | HFA - The Humane Farming Association | Cancer Research Institute | Child Find of America Inc. | Prevent Child Abuse America | Goodwill Industries International, Inc. | Greenpeace Fund | Coalition for the Homeless | Habitat for Humanity Int'l | American Red Cross | Action Against Hunger | Feed The Children | The Soup Ladies | Random Acts Of Pizza | Meals On Wheels | Loaves & Fishes | Portland's Sunshine Division | Just Give A Cup |