At the end of our prayer meeting this past week, a woman presented me with a handmade bookmark in the shape of a heart with words to the effect that receiving the bookmark should remind me to do an act of kindness for someone. The woman said, “It is National Radical Kindness Week and I thought you’d like this reminder.”
I was surprised that I had not known it was National Radical Kindness Week. The woman said the people in her church who volunteer to provide used clothing and house items for the poor distributed the bookmarks to their clients.
At the same time, I had come across two wonderful stories of radical kindness that I want to share with you.
First: A customer of U.S. Bank wanted to withdraw some money for Christmas shopping but there was a glitch in the process and he could not withdraw from his account. Apparently, the deposited money had not yet arrived. On the way home from the bank, he stopped for gas thinking he had enough cash to pay for it. He didn’t. So he called the call center of the bank and spoke to a senior officer. She soon realized the customer had been misled and his money would not be available soon. She secured permission to leave on her break and drive to the station where the customer was stranded and give him $20.00 of her own money so he could get some gas and arrive home to his family for Christmas Eve. As soon as U.S. Bank found this out, the call center employee was fired as was her manager for letting her leave on her break to handle an issue with a customer.
The company bars call center employees from meeting customers so it dismissed her and the manager who approved the trip. The banks’ CEO who earned $14.1 million in 2018, refused to answer a New York Times’ reporter’s questions. The generous call center employee was reduced to selling her blood plasma after being fired.
However, her radical kindness and that of her manager’s were promptly rewarded after the article appeared in the New York Times. Hundreds of calls poured in offering jobs to the women and threatening to withdraw business from U.S. Bank. Finally, the CEO responded and offered the women jobs and even promotions within the bank. Both are weighing the offers.
Second: A cardiology nurse in Atlanta became aware of a homeless man who qualified for a heart transplant but would not be considered because he had nowhere to go after surgery. The only thing standing between him and a new heart was homelessness. So the nurse volunteered to take him into her home and provide the care he needed to get well. She plans on assisting him to get a job and eventually his own place to call home.
These are amazing stories of true, radical kindness. They are exceptional examples of ordinary people who simply responded to a need which confronted them. They responded quickly. They gave without thinking of personal consequences.
Some writers of the spiritual life have said that by consciously practicing acts of kindness every day, we prepare ourselves to quickly and lovingly respond when a more challenging need unexpectedly presents itself to us.
Have you ever had that experience? Do you know anyone who has had it? I invite you to share such an experience with our readers. Even the sharing becomes an act of kindness.