Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sometimes good is bad

One of my neighbors is kind of known as a pillar of the community. She goes to church every day and does voluntary church work. Around these parts, she's seen as a "good" person. But there's an air of aloofness about her, and when her neighbor was having water supply problems, she did nothing to help. In fact, she was quite vocal about how this neighbor's problems shouldn't be affecting her.

She puts a bad spin on the word "good." And it makes me believe that being "kind" is so much better than being this type of "good."

Acts of kindness by friends and family are always appreciated. It moves me to tears sometimes when they do this sort of thing when I least expect it. If you've ever experienced being in trouble, then finding out that they're helping you -- even in small ways -- without being asked to, you probably know what I mean.

But acts of kindness by strangers are especially heartwarming. I've been lucky to have been on the receiving end so many times over the years: when our car broke down on the highway and people stopped to ask if they could do anything to help; somebody paying anonymously for my drink; somebody offering to share their umbrella when I'm caught unawares in a downpour...the list goes on.

I read somewhere that the best way to repay an act of kindness is to pass it on. Great idea; I agree wholeheartedly. But if you're going to do it, then in the name of all that is kind and good, don't go about broadcasting what you did, okay? And don't make the recipient feel that he or she owes you a debt of gratitude because of the act of kindness you showed to him or her. That would not be "good."


INAMINI said...

lizza- going to church regularly apparently doesn't mean you're a good person. Sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Anyway, I try to do nice little things everyday- it makes me feel a bit better.

NanNan said...

Rather than a pillar, I'd rather be a willow tree, able to bend in the wind and storms!! And just as you've seen through the act, so have others---- she's probably seen as just the way you have shown her to be----

Prometheus said...

(Leigh Hunt)

Abou Ben Adem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" The Vision raised its head,
And with a look made all of sweet accord
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

The Angel wrote and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And, lo! Ben Adem's name led all the rest.

Prometheus must get some sleep now. It's 0238 in his timezone and the only angel writing anything here is himself.

Gumby said...

so erecting statues to my own generosity would be tacky?

Kiyotoe said...

Unfortunately INAMINI, many of the people i know that go to church every sunday are also some of the "ugliest" (personality wise) people i've ever met.

And it may sound corny and "Wonderful Life-ish" but it really does feel good to do nice things for people that need it, WITHOUT broadcasting it.

Photo Cache said...

I know someone exactly that sort. It kinda sours me toward her, but not to all churchgoers. My thinking is that's between her and her GOD.

Let me share a touching true story about random acts of kindness. I am aware that most people subscribe to a random act of kindess at least once a day...I was on the receiving end of that a week ago. I was in restaurant and in between mouthfuls, a hand came from behind me and a I heard a voice saying, "You could use this", handing me a $20 off coupon for my meal....I know I said thanks profusely, but I could not make out his face. It feels great to do an act, but to be on the receiving end is quite weird, but nice.

Michael C said...

I work with someone who has become a good friend. He always asks me "Why are we all here (on earth)?" The answer: "to help each other." It's even better when we don't ask for the recognition. Great post!!

ian said...

I always feel better by being nice to people than by being nasty or indifferent. What better contact high to get than the smile of a stranger who appreciates your kind word or helpful act?


Jessica said...

i think sometimes people do things in the community just to seem like a "good" person...but their heart motive is wrong...all they want is other people to be impressed

Anonymous said...

i surely and totally agree with your blog today! being offered a free bucket of beer by a group of total strangers an act of kindness? just remembered the last time we went out. :)


Lizza said...

inamini: I agree with you. Those kinds of churchgoers are silly. I don't know who they think they're fooling...certainly not God!

nannan: And a willow tree is much more graceful and attractive too. :-)

Prometheus: Thank you for the poem. I hope you had a good night's sleep after burning all that midnight oil.

Gumby: Kinda. How come the word "erecting" takes on a different meaning if it comes from you? :-D

Kiyotoe: Yeah, makes you think twice about whether people do nice things just for the sake of it or to look good to others.

Photo: That's a good story. Surprises like that brighten a person's day!

Michael: Thanks! I had a similar conversation with a friend sometime ago, and he told me practically the same thing.

Ian: Yes, it's better to be nice than nasty...especially to those who aren't so nice themselves. But it's a damn hard thing to do sometimes.

Jessica: I so agree. They just end up looking foolish and insincere.

im: Hell, yeah!

terra shield said...

I think there was a movie... 'Pay it forward' or something like that

Lizza said...

Hi terra,

I've heard of that film, but I haven't seen it. I'm so behind when it comes to movies. I've got a lot of catching up to do, I'm afraid.

Doc said...

it was a book first, and if you have the choice go for the book--but be warned, its a tear jerker

Lizza said...

Thanks for the tip, doc! I'll try to find a copy of the book. I'm a sucker for tear jerkers.