It’s been a heck of a week and a heck of a long time since I’ve written a blog post. As a writer I’m not one of those who is gifted at writing day in day out. I can’t always fit it in around everything else in my life. As I am also frequently challenged to find balance in all things (I am a Libran after all), I guess no one could be surprised by this state of affairs.
So if any of you have been wondering where I’ve been, my answer is, I’ve been off seeking balance (somewhat unsuccessfully). For those of you reading my work for the first time, welcome and feel free to stay a while.
My week began with an incident on the train that, in retrospect, could have escalated into something quite terrifying, very quickly. I saw someone being intimidated and felt compelled to take action. I was on my way to work when a man began racially abusing a young Chinese man sitting a few seats away. The intimidator was, of course, twice the size of the young man (bullies so often use their size in a negative way) and was soon standing over him, seeking a reaction. The young man continued to focus desperately on the phone in his hand and was no doubt terrified.
It was awful and something inside me just said, no. I got up, walked over, and sat in the seat opposite. I didn’t look at the intimidator and I didn’t say anything. But I wanted that young man to know he wasn’t alone. I also wanted the intimidator to know that his actions were being witnessed.
It’s unlikely that my move went unnoticed by the intimidator and he shortly returned to his seat. The young man got off a stop or two later but I had to stay on for another few minutes, feeling the intimidator’s angry energy pushing up against me, until the doors eventually opened again and I could make my own escape.
Another man in thirties disembarked at the same time and as we walked along the platform it became clear he had also witnessed the interactions. “I’m so glad to be off that carriage,” he said. “I’m not a fighter, but I knew that if something happened I would have to step in.”
“I felt exactly the same,” I said. “I mean he’s twice my size, and I’m female and can’t fight, but I couldn’t just sit by and allow that to happen without doing something.” He nodded his agreement and we went our separate ways.
Fast forward to a few days later and I found myself watching some of the doctors and nurses at the hospital where I work, help my colleague and friend Cate* during her medical emergency. The professionalism and above all, kindness, showed by all the staff involved was an almost overwhelmingly beautiful thing to witness.
The fact that they do this type of thing every day was really beside the point. They were of course, effective and highly-efficient, but it was their compassion and care for Cate*, and even for me – just a friend who was waiting until Cate’s partner could get there, that struck me the most. These are people who do their jobs because they want to help others and so they use their amazing skills to help strangers every day.
In few hours I’ll be sitting at a community meeting in Hawthorn with a bunch of strangers. The event is being run by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and the focus of all attendees will be on people most of us haven’t met yet – refugees. We’ll be focusing on how we can help the strangers who arrive from war torn countries and repressive regimes seeking safety and a new life often with little more than the clothes on their backs.
When I think about the incident on the train, the medical emergency with my friend and the meeting I will attend this afternoon, it is the theme of strangers helping strangers that stays with me. There are also strong elements of kindness and compassion.
I believe we are at our best when we use kindness and compassion to guide us. But it’s not always an easy thing to do. Just like everyone else, I struggle with this concept when someone pushes my buttons or does something I vehemently dislike and would fight against. We are all human after all.
But when we put aside everything else and come from a place of kindness and compassion to help strangers, that is one of the most amazing gifts we have to offer each other and the world.
When we help strangers, we help ourselves. Because one day the stranger being helped might be you.
*All names changed. Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash
Lucretia is a writer and psychic channel who helps women access the greatness within by claiming their intuitive power, managing their psychic gifts and living their purpose.