Kindness Can Turn This Troubled World Around

by on December 21, 2018 · 4 comments

in From the Soul, San Diego

by Ernie McCray

Not too long ago I had an encounter with an act of random kindness.

It went like this: I was enjoying an interesting tale in San Diego born Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ wonderful collection of short stories, “Heads of the Colored People” and a meal of scrambled eggs and ham with a buttered biscuit and jam and a Bloody Mary when I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked up and into the beautiful face of a black woman, close to my age, a woman whom I had acknowledged with a slight nod of my head as she left the café.

We black people of a certain age do that when we catch each other’s eye, say, walking down the street or exiting a restaurant, sometimes adding a word or two: “How you doing?” or a “Hey, now” – essentially saying:  “I don’t know you, but I can guess what you might have been through.”

With the way the woman was looking at me, as she stood over me, I thought maybe she was about to say something like “Don’t you remember me?” and then I was sure she was going to say “Did you drop this?” because she was handing me something.

And that something happened to be a $20 gift certificate to the eatery where I was chowing down, with the words:

“Blessings – Happy Holiday”

It took my breath away!

All I could think or say was “Thank you” and I said it over and over again in a soft voice I almost didn’t recognize, one coming from an emotion I didn’t know I had inside and what I felt, in those moments, I can’t describe. I just felt good.

And it wasn’t that I needed a lift in that moment. I was already in a nice place.

My food and drink was tasty.

The book I was reading as I ate was written brilliantly.

I had earlier on completed a task, nailing down a time that a school board member could meet with me and some other people regarding the bullying of Muslim students in our schools.

I was to do a segment on a sportswriter friend’s radio show in Tucson later in the week so my ego was wide awake as images of my basketball playing days danced in my head off and on that day: all the pulling up for jumpshots and dominating the boards and whipping outlet passes to start fastbreaks and driving around some dude I had suckered with a fake – all for the sake of not wanting to be anonymous in a crazy ass Jim Crow state.

Life couldn’t be better than the way it was that day for me. But I can’t get that woman’s selfless loving gesture towards me off my mind.

And I keep thinking about the lack of kindness that’s colored our country of late.

Like what if we had taken a different approach to the people who came from as faraway as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador (the “caravan”), running away from poverty and unemployment and violence, seeking asylum in the U.S. from persecution due to their race or their religion or their politics or the people with whom they associate – hoping to build better lives for themselves and their families.

What if we put ourselves in their place, in our hearts and minds, in a spirit of being kind, and treated them the way we would want to be treated under the same circumstances: not as criminals and terrorists and gang members for soldiers and border patrol agents to harass at the border with tear gas and helicopters – no, not that at all, but as mothers and fathers with sons and daughters and men and teenagers on their own trying to alter their fate.

What if when they reached our borders, out of kindness, they were greeted by a large number of people who were trained to interview them and assess the credibility of their appeal for asylum?

That, of course, would not be a random act of kindness but one that is backed by and required by international laws relating to asylum seekers.

But kindness is kindness no matter its origin.

I’d dare say that any immigrant who gains entry to our country due to the kindness inherent in a process that allows them to be heard would feel as I did just receiving a $20 dollar gift certificate: on top of the world.

In my present state of mind I’m seeing kindness as a key to turning a troubled world around, as it leaves a lasting impression on both the giver and the receiver of it, as I saw the woman walk away with a big smile on her face and I can’t erase the smile from my face.

In my way of thinking that, alone, makes kindness something that can turn this troubled world around.

And we can’t get started fast enough.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist December 22, 2018 at 8:38 am

A great solstice message, Ernie, thanks!


Bernard December 23, 2018 at 1:55 pm



Toni Kaus December 23, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Love this piece and the sentiment. Thanks, Ernie!


Bob "Hubba Jubba" Moss December 23, 2018 at 10:34 pm

Great job as usual my great Buddy. Guess what? I am going to author a column of my own soon for the local Pine Bluff newspaper. The topic: “Hearty Laffter: Never Wake Up Without it!” Yes indeed; I’m growing up to be just like you. And a happy-happy Holiday Season to your and yours. I have already ascribed two features already; when I get to five, I’ll forward them to you for your reactions.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: