Even the casual observer will acknowledge there’s an overabundance of sarcasm and biting attitudes throughout the culture today. Horrifying violence and evil are regularly depicted on the news and throughout social media. And in case you haven’t noticed, a growing number of people are cynical of societal institutions.
Then, in the midst of all that, there are the acts of kindness. A glimmer of hope and light, these stories oftentimes spread like wildfire via social media. One after another, our friends share accounts of strangers doing the right thing, everyday people performing heroic deeds, and others – in big ways and small – showing love and genuine concern for their community.
One recent example of a story that went viral is the tale about the 19-year-old Minneapolis Dairy Queen manager, Joey Prusak, and a blind customer who accidently dropped a $20 bill. When a woman standing in line behind the blind man quickly grabbed the money and put it in her purse, Prusak couldn’t believe his eyes. He asked the woman to return the $20. When she refused, he asked her to leave.
Here’s what makes Prusak really stand out, though: after he finished tending to the other customers in line, he walked over to the blind man, took a $20 bill out of his own wallet, and gave it to the wronged customer.
Another customer who witnessed the event wrote an email to the company, and now news of the kind deed has exploded online. It’s being reported by major news outlets like The Huffington Post and the Today Show. It’s being shared time and time again. Strangers visit Prusak’s store to give him $20. Prusak even got a call from billionaire Warren Buffet, whose company owns Dairy Queen. Word is Buffet wants to meet Prusak.
The overwhelming response to Prusak’s kindness tells me our culture is starving for this type of news. Despite the cynicism and sarcasm, they’re hungry for hope. Even the most jaded people among us want to know there are still good folks out there willing to do the right thing.
This also tells me that, despite our post-modern world supposedly free of absolutes, the culture knows there is such a thing as “the right thing.”
Let’s not become discouraged, then, from doing the right thing and living the right way.
Of course, as Christians, we do this not so others will think highly of us. Rather, as Jesus told us, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Some may scoff at the idea of filing a completely honest tax return, laugh at the joke with inappropriate overtones, or take advantage of a co-worker’s mistake to look good in front of the boss. But I have a hunch that deep inside they know it’s the right thing – and they respect it.
Reporters may not be clamoring to write articles about the smile we give the frazzled clerk at the grocery store or the times we open the door for the mom juggling a toddler, a baby and a double stroller. In fact, a newspaper devoted to “good news” went out of business shortly after it launched. And so the world may not learn of the hot coffee we bought for the homeless person downtown on that chilly fall day, but these acts of kindness make a difference to the men, women and children on the receiving end of the gesture. They give hope to a culture yearning for some relief from the constant exposure to the jagged edges of distrust – and they bring a little slice of heaven to earth.