Food For Thought is a public theology & Bible advocacy blog for Eternity from Sophia Think Tank’s David Wilson, who gathers top Christian thinkers to take a closer look at how the Christian faith addresses matters in society at large every week.
Last week I wrote a piece about men behaving badly. Then I heard a story about a man who behaved really well. Made me realise afresh that while there is a lot of evil in our communities there is also a lot of good. Here’s the story…
My daughter was riding on a Melbourne train last Saturday. At one station there was a man suffering quite severe physical and verbal disabilities waiting in a wheelchair on the platform. The train stopped and the driver got out and said ‘G’day Billie, how are you today?’ Billie gave a huge grin and awkwardly communicated how he was to which the train driver listened and carried on a conversation about the last week. At the next station another man in a wheelchair was waiting and again the driver jumped out and helped him onto the train. As they talked the man said he needed to stop at Surrey Hills, a station that the train doesn’t usually stop at but the driver told him they would make a special stop for him.
Such respect and kindness. There should be an award for people who treat other people as important and in ways that are humanising. I don’t know who the driver is but if anyone recognises him from this story tell him thanks from me will you?
This is interesting too in the light of an article in The Conversation on Australia as a kind nation. The author, Nicholas Hookway of the University of Tasmania, states that in contrast to the concern that Western Society is going down the tubes morally, there is some good news from an Australian survey asking 2000 respondents about kindness.
“We found 95% of respondents believe that it is quite or very important to be kind to one another; 97% agreed that they see themselves as a kind person; 90% reported performing a kind act at least once a week and 82% say most Australians are quite or very kind.”
Asking about what motivates such kindness “51% said they were kind because “it’s who I am” while only 12% of respondents said it was because they like to be seen as kind, it may benefit them or that they are required to be kind.”
Hookway’s conclusion was “These findings suggest that perhaps the extent and nature of moral decline is not what we thought it was”.
It is obvious that the Bible regards Kindness as an excellent attribute for society and an excellent expression of humanness. It is seen (Galatians 5:22-26) as what the Bible refers to as the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ (in other words an expression of the very character of God) and James, the brother of Jesus Christ, tells us that it is an expression of the type of wisdom that is ‘from above’ (James 3:17-18). Numerous other Bible passages could be cited to illustrate the point.
God is alive and well and at work in the world around us. The expression of kindness by the train driver is an expression of the character of God, whether he believes in God or not, and our society needs a lot more of that. Brendan Nottle, the Salvation Army Major in the City of Melbourne, spoke at the launch of their Urban Justice Centre last week and quoted John Batman’s famous statement: ‘this is the place for a village’. He said a ‘Village’ is much more than geography and climate. It is all about looking out for each other and caring for each other. He made the observation that we need a good dose of what it means to be a village. Kindness is a part of that.
Our hero Train Driver was doing the village thing and it should be applauded. We need to be committed to being ‘Village People’ by performing random acts of kindness and applauding loud and clear when we witness such acts by others.
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