Yellow and orange overtakes the sky in San Francisco. Not over Pier 39 or Ghirardelli Square, but the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, where crime, poverty, and isolation are three constant companions. I dawdle through the streets with a group of about seven other people from my mission trip, looking for those in need of food, blankets, or--most commonly--a conversation.
I didn’t notice him at first, but as I looked back over my shoulder, I saw him. Rob. Sitting in a chair in front of a restaurant, by himself and watching those that passed by. I walked up to him and asked how he was doing. The conversation we had lasted over an hour. Throughout it I learned that I was the first person to talk to Rob in years, and he was completely isolated from any family or friends. He told me about the apartment he had been living in, how he was neighbors with addicts and thieves, and how he could not afford to go anywhere else. He wanted so badly to get out of the Tenderloin and to have a better life. He wept, telling me that he thought nobody would ever notice him again, and seemed distraught when I had to go. I checked on him the next day, and he was so much happier.
Kindness isn’t something that is hard to practice, but it is something that affects everyone every single day.
I have experienced kindness throughout my entire live, both on the giving and receiving ends, and seen the impact it can have on people of all ages. As a younger child, I would get happy from just someone telling me I was nice. Growing older, I have experienced kindness and its effects both on the giving and receiving end. Hearing that someone thinks I look nice or that they thought of me brings me joy, just as being the reason for someone’s smile or laughter brings me an uncomparable amount of joy. It does not take a lot of work to be kind, but it does have a huge payoff for all parties involved.
I believe in a world where kindness overcomes hatred. I believe in a world where others come first. I believe in the positive effect kindness has in this world.
I believe in kindness.