Forgotten Acts of Kindness

By the Bus Stop
She stood out from the crowd. As I drove by campus a couple of weeks ago on my way from a school to my office, my peripheral vision caught a young lady by a bus-stop in front of the U of C. She was walking back and forth, but not in a normal pacing kind of way. She walked with a dejected gait, was talking to herself, somewhat shuffling at times, and looking like she was about to cry. A few students walked by her, stared, and made their way on. The light turned green and I was forced to drive, unable to suddenly switch into the left lane to make a U-turn to stop and ask if she was OK. I continued to look into my rear view mirror, and she was still pacing dejectedly until she was no larger than a small speck. I regretted not pulling a sudden turn, the result being that she was on my mind for the rest of that day.

And so was the fact that while numerous students walked by her and stared, no one seemed to be able to spare 5 seconds to say the words "Are you doing alright?"

I've also seen seniors needing support with bags of groceries or with navigating the streets. Or teens that look seriously stressed. In some cases, I see single women sitting and crying, making me wonder how crushed they must be if they're crying in public and by themselves. I know that if I were in any of those cases, a stranger with a few caring words may make a difference.

Perhaps it's my naivety that's causing me to blog about this. But then again, it's something that my mom has modelled to me time after time. She taught me that we need to pay attention to those around us, because we never know when someone may need a helping hand or a few words. So then I started to wonder if other generations have been instilled with this same notion. Or are people just too busy with their smart phones and in their own heads to even care?

Definition: A sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another.

So perhaps the larger question is whether society in the year 2012 lacks compassion? Or are we just too busy for it? Too engrossed in our own lives to look around and outside of our own worlds. Or has selfishness caused us to expect favours in return, thus we abandon the thought of reaching out in the first place.

The pay it forward concept is powerful in thought, and the impact it could hypothetically have is astounding. Yet we need to be unselfish, to do for the sake of Allah and not for recognition or reciprocity. This takes us getting rid of any pride or ego that remains, which as humans, is not easy. If only we could follow in the Prophet's (SAW) footsteps and give as selfishly as our ancestors did. But perhaps we could at least try? 

And building up on this thought is the one whereby volunteerism is often encouraged for the sake of it building that "good" feeling inside. That when you feel selfish enough to crawl into the hole of your own "problems", you can walk in someone else's shoes for one day and appreciate what you have in your life. I don't see enough people (let alone Muslims) taking this on, and hey, I'm guilty myself. Instead, I see Muslims donating their time and efforts to Muslim-only causes. Yet when we look at the composition of homeless in our city, or those with mental health concerns, those accessing the food banks and salvation army, they aren't all Muslim! We need to broaden our definition of charity and outreach to ALL of those who need support and not solely those of the same faith.

Sometimes, it's even about doing something small for someone we care about. A thoughtful gesture of appreciation that this person is in our lives. A coffee for a coffee addict for example! Or an email with a funny line or two. It's truly the thoughtful moments that mean the most to others, the less it costs the better!

What Can We Do?
It doesn't take much to reach out others. Here are a few things we can do to show compassion in the simplest of ways:
  1. Be aware of your surroundings and use your skills to your advantage
  2. Take time to give to causes that are sometimes overlooked or under-resourced
  3. Take a moment to ponder the following thought: if you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be? What could you do about it? 
  4. Start random conversations with people you meet, in a non-freaky kind of way I mean! You would be surprised to learn that everyone has a story to share.
Cheesy? Perhaps. Unrealistic? Maybe. I suppose the only way you'll know is if you try it out! 


  1. society has become sheep..very touching blog though i must say

  2. I agree and thanks Brothah! I've had the lowest number of readers with this entry, makes me wonder if the topic isn't of interest?


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