In Praise of Kindness

These are things I have seen and heard.... When I was a child in a fitful home, my Aunt Mary took my brothers and me to her home for extended visits, making us feel loved. When my daughter Sarah

Jul 9, 2008 at 2:06 pm

These are things I have seen and heard....

When I was a child in a fitful home, my Aunt Mary took my brothers and me to her home for extended visits, making us feel loved.

When my daughter Sarah Maria was 2, she feared the neighbors' dog but wanted to play in their yard. Her brother Josh took her hand and walked her to the swing set.

My friend Larry freely gives cigarettes, which are no longer cheap, to anyone who asks.

I work with a man named Andy who used his social network to find a free lawyer for a homeless man wrongly cited for jaywalking. The lawyer agreed to meet his client on the 4th of July, his day off work.

A struggling Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Colerain Township regularly donates food to the Drop Inn Center.

While having a heart attack, my first editor, Dennis, refused to go to the emergency room until he'd stopped at the office to sign the staff's payroll checks. He wanted to make sure we were paid on time even if he died.

Paul, an editor at The Cincinnati Enquirer, broke up a bar fight that he could easily have walked away from, as I did.

My brother Scott, who loathes the police, stopped a man who was attacking a cop at a gas station.

Two years ago I had no car and no umbrella. A woman named Lynn saw me being drenched at a bus stop and gave me a ride downtown.

A woman named Kelly took on an abusive public official in Oxford after he victimized her neighbor, substituting herself as a target.

My friend Margo gives me money to give to panhandlers.

Pumpkin Butt, our indoor cat, bolts outside, risking a dousing with the squirt bottle, just to snuggle a few moments with One-Eyed Fred, a stray we look after.

When my friend Joebob owned a restaurant in Clifton, he cooked meals for poor people in exchange for their sweeping the floor.

The first time I drove alone with my newborn son, I ran out of gas. Holding the baby in one hand and a gas can in the other, I hitchhiked for less than a minute before a minister gave us a ride.

A lawyer named Robert has been suing the city, state and county on behalf of penniless prisoners for 30 years, defending their right to fair and humane treatment.

When my father lay dying, his brother visited him and ended a feud of nearly 20 years.

My cousin didn't make it before my mother died, but she came to the funeral — the first time we'd spoken to her in 25 years.

A hard-ass reporter named Kevin volunteers to care for unwanted and neglected animals.

When I ran away at age 12, a woman named Pat helped me return home without paying too painful a price.

I know several people who catch insects and release them outside rather than kill them.

Over-the-Rhine has a legacy of barbers who have given free haircuts to homeless men.

When city officials banned the distribution of free food to homeless people in Washington Park, churches started doing it on the sidewalks instead, defiantly feeding the hungry.

The food that comes to me is the result of the work of my wife, the grocer, wholesalers, brokers, truckers, farmers, fertilizer and equipment manufacturers and bankers.

My son Jeremy is one of those smart people who always loses things. When he lost his wallet in a town about 40 miles from home, someone called and returned it to him, with all its contents intact.

If I want a bag of pot but don't have cash, a dealer I know extends me credit.

A former governor named Robert III is widely reviled as a scoundrel. But in 2003 he resisted pressure from his own political allies and commuted the death sentence of a man whose conviction was in doubt.

My friend Margaret prefers her hair quite short but lets it grow long so she can donate it to a group that makes wigs for cancer patients.

When I was a troubled 15-year-old, I made a bomb threat against a politician named Jerry. He forgave me, refusing to prosecute.

A writer named Steve and his wife Becky take in addicts and ex-cons.

A store clerk named Janet once covered me on a pack of cigarettes when I was 23 cents short. When I returned to repay her, she didn't remember helping me.

When a group of peace protesters occupied the office of a congressman named Steve, his staff gave the protesters a key to the restroom.

When I could no longer cut my elderly aunt's grass, her neighbors started doing it. When they moved, the new neighbors started doing it.

One-Eyed Fred is a savage hunter. His take so far this summer already includes a rabbit, a squirrel and two birds. But I saw him hunt and corner a mole, only to sniff at it and walk away, letting it live.

Kindness happens. May it increase.