Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Finding Kindness by Land and by Sea

Did you see yesterday’s news? A fellow has been hitchhiking across the lower 48 in search of material for his upcoming book on kindness. Specifically, on the kindness of strangers. As he made his way across Montana, a stranger in a pick-up truck drove up to him and shot him.

I wonder if that incident will be included in the kindness book. Or maybe the author will encounter enough people behaving badly to write a second book. [My thanks to the Lull reader who e-mailed this story to me. Her subject line: “It may not be kind, but it’s America.”]

In contrast, another Lull reader sent me a 2010 headliner about kindness. It happened a little farther north, off the coast of Alaska.

The strangers were in a large boat instead of a truck, and they were headed to a small town for a leisurely brunch. Their plans shifted as four unidentified creatures in the distance swam ever closer to the boat. The creatures turned out to be four Sitka Black-Tailed Deer, swimming for their lives and clearly needing help. Where had they come from? How long had they been in the frigid waters? Where were they originally trying to go?

Ship captain Tom Satre wasted no time in answering any questions; he immediately rallied his companions—his brother, sister, and daughter—to help the animals. Everyone worked at lifting the deer onto the boat and getting them warm and calm. The operation was touch-and-go for a while, but the humans managed to keep all four deer alive until reaching land, by which time the deer appeared to have recovered their health and were released. [Click through to a full news story for details, or to Tom Satre’s Web site where you may view more photos of the ordeal.]

With the world in economic and environmental turmoil, it’s sometimes hard to see how we can possibly make any difference. For most of us, I think the first step—and maybe the only step—is to act with kindness every day. It’s the simplest, most direct way of improving our world—one encounter at a time, human or nonhuman.

[Photos by Sharon Kelly.]

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