Reflecting on the issue of Caring about People, the late and great Nelson Mandela comes to mind where he taught us by word and example that the Mentality of Retaliation Destroys not just States but people as well and it is only Tolerance that Builds Nations. He also taught that the Weak can Never Forgive and that Forgiveness is the attribute of the Strong! I wonder how many of our politicians can lay claim to the noble path of Forgiveness even though it is what Lord Buddha also taught. I read that when Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa he went for a stroll in the city one day with his close protection unit and expressed his desire to eat in one of their downtown restaurants. So, they did as Mandela wanted, went to a restaurant and ordered food. While they were eating, Mandela noticed a man sitting in front of their table waiting for food and he asked one of his soldiers to go and ask that person to join them with his food. Apparently, the man got up and joined them and sat by Mandela’s side. However, they noticed his hands were trembling constantly and he waited until everyone had finished their food and left. One of Mandela’s soldiers remarked that apparently the man was quite sick as his hands trembled so much. Mandela said, “No, not at all, this man was the Guard of the Prison where I was jailed. Often, after the torture I was subjected to, I used to scream and ask for a little water and this very same man used to come every time and urinate on my head. Now that I am President of the State of South Africa, he probably expected me to retaliate in the same way by torturing him or imprisoning him; that is why he was trembling, but that is not in my character nor part of my ethics.” That is also when Nelson Mandela declared “The Mentality of Retaliation destroys States, while the Mentality of Tolerance builds Nations.” He continued saying “The Weak can Never Forgive, Forgiveness is the attribute of the Strong.” These are the gems of wisdom that this awesome human being tried desperately to inculcate in humanity.
Post-COVID brought many hard questions and taught many lessons but the burning question is how many have learned and how many really care? We see, talk and read about happenings the world over but our people seem to have already forgotten. Yet there are so many, so very many in want today, in want of food, clothing, shelter, medicine, the little basic necessities of life that some take for granted and which others are compelled to do without.
I read and watched a video in an European country where one woman was a shining example to others because she had suffered so much. COVID cost her the job she was doing, she went home and found a letter from the company saying she had no more work there, additionally she was evicted and just after that she discovered she had no groceries even though she scraped up all the money she had she was finally left with nothing to eat.
Miraculously, a stranger in her neighborhood had heard of her plight and brought her a bag of groceries. The woman was astounded, finally she had something to eat. Not long after she got a job, a better job and was able to get her life back on track again. She then decided to follow the example of the stranger who showed her so much kindness when she was homeless. She started moving around town with a cart and shopping bags filled with groceries which she gave away FREE. One little boy came up to her and said they didn’t have much money because his Dad had been laid off work and could he have some groceries for the money he had, she sweetly told him the groceries were FREE. The boy was stunned but happy. However, there was another man watching her and when the boy left he walked up to her and asked “Do you really think giving someone a bag of groceries is going to make a difference?” So she told him how she got laid off because of the hard times and didn’t know how she was going to survive. Things got so bad I even ran out of food and had nothing to eat. I scraped up all the money I could but still didn’t have enough, but then out of nowhere a kind man came and handed me a bag full of food. She felt as if an angel came and helped her and she went on to say she never would have eaten if it were not for the kindness of that stranger. His one small act of kindness made a really big difference in her life and now that she had a new job she really wanted to help people. The stranger however persisted by telling her there were millions of people out there who were starving and that giving away free groceries to one person was not going to help.
Just then a gentleman came up to her and asked if she was the lady who gave her son free groceries? The lady was worried that something was wrong but the gentleman assured her that nothing was but that he was having a hard time supporting his family because he had been laid off work and they did not have food. The lady had two bags of groceries left in her cart and she quickly picked one up and gave it to the youngster; the father was astounded, thanked her profusely and said he will never forget her act of kindness because of it his family would be fed for a few days at least The cynic who had asked her what she hoped to achieve with a bag of groceries was standing there when this happened and he was really ashamed, apologised to the lady because he saw how her act of kindness had helped that family. She was very gracious and offered him also a bag of groceries which he accepted and went home. The next day saw him doing the same thing that lady had done pushing a cart with FREE give away groceries. It just goes to prove that one act of kindness can spur many people to bestow kindness on others. You don’t need to know people to be kind, remember the age old saying, “A stranger is just a friend you do not know!” Yes, indeed strangers most often bring a smile into our lives when we least expect them to, they brighten the horizon which is dark with pain, they bring food to the hungry, give comfort to the lonely, they are actually angels in disguise.
In this fast pace selfish world we live in, kindness is rarely bestowed because most people do not know how to care for another, how to show affection, warmth and concern. Generally, kindness and compassion take a back seat when everything else like, expendable human interactions gather importance and the value of kindness is denigrated. I have yet to see or read of one of our politicians showing kindness and caring to another human being. Most of them, including the millionaires and billionaires of our country live their lives in total oblivion to the rest of humanity. In a country like ours, the need for kindness and concern is staggering. Our people in the poorest of poor areas are living in the depths of degradation, some have no water, no lights, no food, no clothes no medication, nothing, absolutely nothing. We have yet to hear of one single politician visiting any area of the poor and carrying out a worthwhile mission. Why don’t we hear of Ministers opening soup kitchens in their areas to feed the poorest of the poor, even a bowl of soup a day will help to stave the hunger of countless people who cannot afford a regular meal. How is it that none of our politicians have even thought in that direction or is it that they just don’t care?
Needless to say, lots of schemes, programmes and handouts will be brought into play before the elections - the ‘gundus’ as they are called will all be forthcoming now! For how long though? The people of our country never learn, they are so easily swayed, so easily bought over with promises that they have absolutely no intention of keeping! There are many ways, many promises designed to fool the masses but the saddest part of all is that the masses continue to allow themselves to be fooled!!!