Random Acts of Kindness By New Yorkers

New Yorkers get a bad rep for being selfish and unkind.

But last week, three people jumped onto the subway tracks at the City Hall R station to save a man who had fallen on the tracks. A CUNY graduate student, Sumeja Tulic, was an eyewitness. Ms. Tulic is a Bosnian-Libyan and a Muslim, who has lived in NYC only 9 months since moving from London. She conceded to the NYT that her time here in America has not been easy. Ironically, she said, that as she walked to work that Friday, she really needed “to see something nice” for a change.

I feel for Ms. Tulic. The times we live in can seem very ugly indeed. That is why good news is often made that much more uplifting when the backdrop is so much pain.

I am deeply moved by random acts of kindness by strangers, thinking they are rare. But actually, I was surprised to learn they happen all the time in NYC. In May, the Epoch Times decided to ask New Yorkers what good deeds they had done for others. Here are a few of them:

  • Helping a pregnant woman whose water broke in an elevator
  • Treating a stranger to a meal
  • Sharing a talent for free to a non-profit

The guy who helped the pregnant woman in the elevator held her hand while others tried to help her breathe and feel more comfortable. He described the situation “as strangers feeding off each other’s kindness.”

I like to witness kindness and often find myself wiping tears away when I see it (I also cry at Hallmark commercials, cute puppies, and other sappy things). So no matter what horrific event may happen in the world at large, I know I have not completely hardened.

New Yorkers walk by pain every day. Homeless or elderly or mentally ill people are customary sights. We see them on the sidewalk, battling the demons of poverty, poor health, or simple loneliness. I have few answers for how to help them. So usually I just say a little prayer for them. It is my small contribution, letting the universe know that I am paying attention and that I do not take my fortunes or circumstances (such as they are) for granted.

Kindness makes us stronger than we may feel. Once I remember passing a guy loudly arguing with a woman and posturing as if he may harm her. I went up to her and asked her if she was OK.

Was I scared?

Yes. I am only 5’3 and the guy was much bigger than me. But something inside me compelled me to do it.

Kindness is not easy. But is has a tendency of making us feel good. It is also contagious. It makes others around us feel good too.

I should have been scared.

At 5’3 I would have been no match for the much bigger man. With my overwhelming compulsion to intervene, it never entered my mind that I could be hurt.

I never underestimate the impact small acts of kindness can make. So I will keep doing them. And I will likely cry every time I see one done one on behalf of another.