Hugs from Strangers

Some of the things I see on social media make me feel so hopeless for our society today. Every time something horrible happens at the hands of a few hateful individuals, the media and the politicians blast us with unending attempts to blame an entire race or group of people for the violent actions of a few, and many people follow blindly, posting nasty things on Twitter or Facebook that they’d never think of saying to a “friend’s” face.

But I have noticed something encouraging on several occasions, lately. I noticed it again today.

I travel throughout many different counties in Kentucky and Indiana with my job. I talk to many people of every race and creed and age. Different people everyday. What I have been noticing is that there seems to be many folks who, rather than participate in the negativity, are going above and beyond in their efforts to be polite and kind to those who look different from them. They aren’t just going out of their ways to show more respect to others; they are smiling more, looking others in the eye, striking up polite conversations, laughing together. I’ve had more people whom I do not know offer God’s blessings to me in the past few weeks than would normally happen in a year’s time.

I was working in a store, today, when a young African-American man starting singing to me. In the store! He said I looked like someone who would appreciate a good song. I smiled at him and told him he had a voice that should be on the radio. He flashed his huge smile back at me and hugged me. It’s funny how such a simple thing can make one’s entire day brighter.  It made me want to do something kind for someone else. The opportunity quickly presented itself as I was standing at a self-serve checkout a few minutes later.

There was a Latino mom at the checkout next to me. She had two little girls. They wanted a bag of candy but the mom told them she couldn’t afford it. I picked up two bags of candy, rang them up, and gave them to the girls as we were walking out of the store.

“My treat,” I said. The mom thanked me and asked me my name. I told her that my grandchildren call me Mimi, and she replied, “Okay, girls. We are saying a special prayer for Mimi tonight!”

The little girls laughed and hugged me. Two of my favorite things; hugs and prayers! And there is something kind of special about them when they come from people you don’t even know.

People are getting extremely tired of folks trying to convince them to turn against others. There are always going to be hateful people in the world, and no amount of protesting, whether peaceful or violent, is going to stop that. But most people do not hate other people because of the color of their skin, or because of their religious beliefs, or because they don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on everything. Most people just want to be treated with kindness and respect, and they realize that others with whom they come into contact just want the same. That doesn’t mean that the haters aren’t still going to hate, but it does mean that the rest of us don’t have to respond in same.

I think, perhaps, there may be an effort among many churches to encourage people to go an extra step in shining the Light of Christ in such times as these, and I think many are taking it to heart. I sure hope so, anyway, because we sure need it.

Smiles and hugs from perfect strangers say there is hope for the world, still yet.

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