I have a friend, nice guy, an example of kindness all around. He has one of those challenging jobs where you get to help people who don’t always want to be helped. One of my favourite qualities about him is that if you piss him off, in the end he’ll likely offer to buy you a beer. Kindness always seems to prevail.

He happened to mention that he’d run into a couple of homeless guys, down on their luck he could tell. He passed by them on his way to pick up some things. He didn’t buy them a beer. He bought them lunch and delivered it to them, taking the time to talk for a few minutes before carrying on with his original errand. When he came back he gave them some cash and wished them well. I told you he was kind.

It was the next part of the story that was the surprise. He confided he could relate to them because only a few years ago he was homeless, down on his luck and a couple of kind and helpful people helped him back up. He’s been quietly paying forward ever since.

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It made me think about what got him back on his feet. It wasn’t policies stopping people from feeding the homeless. It wasn’t making life harder for the homeless or shaming them or blaming them. It was a couple of kind people that helped him out when he needed it and was ready for it. It was kindness and a little compassion and probably even a little love. Somebody believed in him. It made a difference, it created a ripple and look how far that ripple is going.

That got me to thinking about an article on UpWorthy. I read about a little research study that Columbia professor Carl Hart did in his lab. There is a huge belief drugs themselves cause addiction that can be almost impossible for a user to break. There was a famous experiment done where rats would give themselves drugs until they killed themselves thus “proving” this point. However Professor Hart discovered that if you gave the rats a satisfying alternative, like sweets, they’d usually go for the alternative over the drug. Hmmmm.  Fast forward to human testing.

Then Hart did something unusual. He invited human drug users into his lab. He set up an experiment where he offered regular meth users a choice between drugs or money.

When presented with an attractive alternative ($20), even people who regularly use a drug like meth still chose the alternative.

Drugs are a symptom of a society where people don’t feel they have good options, Hart theorizes. They aren’t the cause.

Ok, so maybe they took the money and then went and bought better drugs.  But.  Just maybe, at least in part, drug addiction and homelessness have this in common. People have to actually see that they have good options that are attainable. If they no longer believe enough in themselves or don’t have the ability to be taken as something or someone other than a homeless person, or an addict, that’s exactly how they see themselves and where they remain.

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Maybe it’s time to spend a little less time judging and a lot more time being kind and helping out. Just maybe you’ll start the most amazing ripple that will just keep growing and growing.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. ~ Dali Lama

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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