Lately I have been in awe of little acts of kindness from random strangers. Maybe it’s just the holidays, but it seems that wherever I turn, someone is there to help. I guess that’s why tonight, when I was walking home from yet another random act of kindness, I was surprised to witness a disgusting act of hate that I can’t stop thinking about.
I was walking towards the metro station when I heard a homeless woman yelling at a young black security guard. He turned to walk away and then she yelled the most disgusting, obscene, unforgivable word that has ever been written in the English language.
As I walked closer, I could see the man’s body literally reel back. It was as if this woman’s hate had sunk a hook into his back. He turned around and said “What did you just call me?” And she responded with the word, again.
Surprised by her answer, he turned and asked me if I had heard what the woman had said. Looking into this man’s eyes, I could see that the real question was not if I had heard it, but if I believed it.
Shocked by the situation, I told him that I heard it and was disgusted by it. I told him what was obvious, that she was mentally ill, what she had said was unforgivable and wrong, and that he was bigger and better than her words.
By now a friend of this man’s had joined us and gave the man his support. The man turned to us and said “I am better than that” and walked to a corner where he put his face against a wall.
As I was turning to leave, his friend called after me and asked me what my name was. As we exchanged names, a powerful recognition came between us. Looking into each other’s eyes we saw that good people in this world still existed and that love was more powerful than hate.
This interaction, though brief, was proof that we are all interconnected and we all have a choice to make. We can choose to let hate ruin and divide us, or turn it into something that makes us stronger and more powerful. We can also let hate stick with us, or simply realize “we are better” and move on.