The Blindness in Kindness
It was Mark Twain who said "Kindness is the language which the blind can see and the deaf can hear". After experiencing the story I am about to tell you I can definitely attest to that statement. It was Winter of 2012. I had just finished spending two weeks at home in the states with my family and was returning to my naval base in Japan. After 15 hours of flying I was finally back in Japan and making my way to the Hakata Train station in Fukuoka via Subway. As I got off the subway I wanted to do two things, eat and take a shower. I'm not a big fan of showering in subways so my priority was to find some food but first I needed Japanese currency. I made my way to through the train station which is humongous, desperately looking for an ATM, and after several minutes I began to give up hope. After about a half hour of looking I came across three young Japanese men (early 20's) at a McDonalds. I walked up to them and began to use the universal language of charades to see if they could help me find an ATM. After a few minutes and several silly gestures later one of the young Japanese men pulled out nearly 10,000 Yen which at the time was the equivalent of about $115.00. At that moment I think I did a quick mental assessment and realized that I had just got done flying for about 15 hours, I more then likely smell, I'm wearing faded sweats and a sweater (my comfy clothes for international flights), and I've got a bit of a beard going. I thought to myself I think they thing I'm homeless and asking for money. I immediately begin to make gestures to them signaling no and thank you and I realized that I had my debit card. I quickly pulled it out and began to do the ATM swipe and they finally realized what I had been trying to say. They began to make gestures that I'm sure meant closed, so I thanked them and walked back to the center of the train station. As I was walking away I began to hear someone running up behind me. When I turned around the same Japanese young man that attempted to give me the money was now trying to give me a huge bag filled with McDonalds. Even though I was starving and a big fan of random acts of kindness. I've never been really big on accepting charity from others so I began to refuse, but when I saw how insistent he was on helping me I decided to accept his charity and began thanking him, which lasted about five minutes and I'm sure embarrassed him. I was so moved by the experienced that I almost wanted to go and find someone to give some of the food away to but unfortunately my stomach took over my judging abilities. I later found out that it is actually rude to refuse a gift from someone in Japan so I'm glad that eventually did accept. I've experienced random acts of kindness before but this particular one meant a little more being that I was a foreigner in that country and to receive that level of kindness from a complete stranger, especially one so young. When I find myself doubting the love of humanity or when I feel frustrating with people due to the cruel acts we are constantly doing to one another. I think back to stories like this one and remember that there are amazingly kind people in this world and that we should always maintain the optimistic perspective that this world is a beautiful place worth having faith in. I also learned that that it is okay to accept other peoples charity from time to time when in need. Seeing as I also enjoy doing random acts of kindess, I realized that it is quite hypocritical to refuse that same joy to others. Charity is something that should definitely never be exploited but it is also not something you should feel guilty for excepting, especially if you do your part as well. So I hope the next time you are faced with the opportunity to show or receive kindness, you will make the decision that continues the cycle of positivity this world desperately needs.