When Kindness is Repaid With Need

I am writing this post to try and distract myself from the distress of my neighbors. At this moment their infant is very sick, and they called upon me and my Person for help. I did my part, but, my Person is still in action. Why did they come to us? Complete strangers? The love of parents will cause the strangest actions.

I live in a very bad neighborhood. It is not bad enough to qualify as a gang war zone but it is still in a location where the middle class is almost non existant. I am far from middle class, though I am making strides to escape poverty. I believe most Americans are however, which means I have competition.

My Person tends to be on guard with everyone here. He has to, in order to feel safe. I confound him by being nice to everyone we meet. Some of the people here could be quite dangerous, yet, I will not back away just because of stereotypes. I trust my instincts and feel that most of them are acting as thugs in order to feel safe. It is a cyclic sort of violence that feeds on itself. I made friends with our neighbors who had immigrated. When they vanished I mourned. I believe they were evicted but I will never know. The neighbors who called on us for help bear the marks of multi-generational poverty in New Mexico. The men are bent over from hard work, the woman is often exhausted from her own work of mothering and having a job. Their children are at a higher risk for disease because of a lack of medical care.

Some of this comes from the prejudices of those who are in power. It is harder to get a job or even a decent education. A very high percentage of people in the local school system are so under educated that they cannot function in any other state. This is the worst state for raising children. This isn’t my theory or opinion but is based on the polls that the government takes Annually. Most of the people I went to High School with were illiterate.

My neighbors face these challenges, and yet as their baby who was smiling and waving at us from the balcony as my Person and I left this morning fell ill they knew that there was a bastion of kindness. I have had small conversations and made the effort to introduce myself before they went upstairs. I wave, I smile. They didn’t know if we had a phone but as they do not they called the hospital. We live right next to a hospital but the Ambulance will take over half an hour to arrive. Though they could walk to the ER from here, it is safer for the child to be driven. My Person is taking them now and will sit with them for a while.

I feel worry for the baby. I have no idea what is wrong with her and the millions of things that it could be rush through my mind. I remember looking up at her, and seeing so much brightness in her eyes. She waved, and I waved back. She giggled and kept waving. She isn’t even three yet. She has barely begun to walk on her own. Her dark hair was up in a little pony tail atop her head. She looked healthy. No child should suffer illness.

I know her mother is ten thousand times more worried than I am. I know she is holding her child in her arms and is praying to whatever diety or dieities she believes in. I hope after she has her child back home, safely in bed, she remembers that she can call on her neigbbors. This isn’t done here. It is agains the entire rule set that is taught.

When you knock ona door, it is usually to beg for money or food. It may be to try and over power the weaker neighbors to rob them. It may be to sell something. This is the presumption you must live with to live where I do. It can be terrifying. I do not answer the door, because it is not safe to do so. My person does. We have had to replace our sign of places that people can go for help with a sign that simply says in two languages, No Solicitation. The list was ignored and instead drew more harassment for what we have.

The culture of fear that pervades the people here is more frightening to me than the threats that are offered through actions. I do not know if it is my unique perspective on the world or if it is because I have broken free from what I was told I had to become in order to live but I hope my example plants the seeds of kindness in some of the people here. Adults can learn to talk to one another, the children can see that it is okay to play even as an adult. A simple hello may have saved the life of a child. It may have made it possible for her mother to get her to the hospital.

Despite the dark world that we live in, a world full of lies, isms, discrimination, and even torture there must be kindness. I have said before that people across the minorities must band together, and I say it again. Even a simple smile, wave, nod, or hello can build a bridge. I did not see the bridge until tonight but it was there, a tenuous connection that has grown stronger.

It is easiest for me to connect to people that I perceive as like me. My neighbors seem very much the Other to me. I catch myself reciting the lies that the “Man” has taught me. The propoganda of education, media, and even previous experience has left me having to fight myself many times over to continue my campaign of genuine human kindness. Sometimes it is forced. Tonight will remain as a reminder to me that this Kindness will be repaid.

This is what I get for being kind. This is what I get for saying hello. This is what my Person gets for answering the door at two o clock in the morning. We get the chance to protect the innocent. We get a chance to show someone else love. We get a chance to do the greatest things in the entire world. We get a chance to give hope. We get a chance to help a child reach adulthood. We also get a chance to break down barriers between two cultures. These people are no longer the Other. They are simply people.

It occurs to me as well that any single person could do as I have done. Anyone could answer the door, hand someone a phone, or even drive them somewhere. Anyone can offer hope, kindness and love. It isn’t anything special I have done, nor should it be rare. It may have been missing with in the lives of these people but it is here now. They will hopefully plant their own seeds of kindness.

It is said that Misery loves company. I believe instead that Misery is really a mask for fear. I will update anyone who reads this as soon as I know what is going on with the precious little girl who lives upstairs. I know too, that after this our greetings will move beyond hellos and our interactions will grow. We planted the seeds, now the garden has begun to grow. Have you planted your Garden of Kindness yet? When it blossoms it will begin to change the world. The world is as large or as small as the people who act and live with in it.

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