Whenever I go to the grocery store, I feel high intensity of guilt whenever I don’t return the grocery cart to the corral or the store. I call it creating good Kart-ma. Especially after I try to pull in a spot, wrangling two little kids, and carts are abandoned in the empty space. Or worse, roll away to hit a car, or maybe cause a store employee to have to chase them all around in the rain. If I save someone the trouble next time, I’m building up a little good will in the future. It is a small human experiment, but one that leads one to consider a bigger question.
In the face of a world with so much anger, pain and tragedy, what is the true nature of human beings?
On the news, every day, it would be very easy to believe that it is all bad — that there is no hope for a world of beauty and peace for our children.
But for every incident of bloodshed and terror, there emerges some stories of bravery and charity.
In every instance of terrorism in on the news, whether domestic or otherwise, there are so many offers to help on social media or in person. Taxi drivers offer free rides. Nearby residents offer asylum to those terrified and stranded. Those medically trained or with no training at all leap to aid those injured.
So what is human nature truly? What is the hope we can bear for our children? Our grandchildren?
While we might only feel we have a small circle of outreach to make a difference, investing in the smallest act of kindness is like tossing a pebble in a pond. The action continues to make ripple upon ripple of effect.
We can’t explain the horror that this world experiences or endures. Sometimes we can’t rationalize it with God or whatever spiritual power we have faith in. Why, we ask?
Can one person change the world? Expecting our actions on a day-to-day basis to make that happen is a discouraging and fruitless concept.
All we can do is wake up in the morning, look at the day ahead of us, and pause a moment to perform an act of kindness. There are a million ways to make someone else’s life better around us. If we all take the time to put one person ahead of ourselves, or push ourselves out of our comfort zone of withdrawal and insulation, to reach out to another, it’s a start.
Holding a door for someone, dropping a tip in a tip jar, saying thank you, paying someone a compliment, reaching out to a friend or family member to say hello or to share a funny moment or memory — these are all ways to add some light to this dark world. The flame is lit by our shared compassion.
Can one person change the world? Maybe not.
Maybe it is an idealistic and foolish concept.
But what is more foolish is not taking the chance. Not putting that cart back. We can prove human nature is inherently good. We can fight the urge to give up and in the process inspire others to do the same.
The first step is just taking the risk — and reaching out our hand and making the world a little bit of a better place for the next person.