This statement really stuck with me this morning. Our pastor mentioned it in his homily then went on to explain that with hate, you’re at least acknowledging the other person’s existence. But indifference is ultimately the cruellest blow of all.
That idea reminded me of how acts of kindness begin by taking notice of others and their needs. This is an important concept for me to keep in mind, as I tend to walk around lost in my own thoughts, somewhat oblivious to what’s going on around me.
Today, however, as I walked to the store, I did manage to notice that a cyclist was stopped on the right-turn median at the traffic lights.
He was a middle-aged dark-skinned man on an older model mountain bike. He was pouring water from a plastic bottle onto his hand, and splashing the water onto his temple.
That’s when I noticed he had a bright red scrape across the side of his face (took me a while, told you I was in my own little world).
I asked him if he was okay and if he needed any help. No thanks, he said, he was just catching his breath.
He then proceeded to tell me that a family van had cut him off and almost run him over. He described how he fell off his bike trying to avoid a collision with the van, and that the driver had yelled at him even though he’d been obeying the rules of the road.
The man eventually got back on his bike, thanked me and rode off.
But why had he thanked me? I wondered. I hadn’t given him any help.
When I heard the homily this morning, it all made more sense. I hadn’t given the man any medical attention, but I had given him my attention. At the very least, I wasn’t indifferent to him (a big leap for me) and he might have appreciated the opportunity to vent after the frightening tumble on his bike.
That said, I probably could have been even more help if I’d recommended that next time he should wear a helmet!