I went out the other night for a walk down the street and around the neighborhood. It was dark outside. Most of the neighborhood streets here have no street lights, so the only illumination comes from the porch lights that are on, or from headlights, or from the light of the moon, depending upon its mood and the mood of the weather.
By the time I had gone two blocks or so, I had begun to weave a bit, as I tend to do because of a balance and muscle strength weakened by MS. I noticed the headlights of a car coming up from behind, so I moved to the side of the road and continued to walk/weave my way forward. The car passed, slowed, then stopped in the middle of the road a few yards ahead of me.
Being an American, and still used to the patterns of everyday life in America, my immediate thought was "What the hell does this guy want?" In America, you weigh the situation with suspicion. Is he gong to rob me? Does he have a weapon. Is he going to proposition me, for sex or drugs or what have you?
So my radar is up, and I walk by without looking at the car or in the window.
And, sure enough, the man pokes his head out.
Do you know what he said?
He said, "Sir, do you need a ride somewhere? Is there anything I can help you with?"
Well, how about that. It's only a fellow human being, after all; and a rather kindly one at that. A young man, maybe 25 or 30. And he was likely concerned at the labored appearance of my gait.
"No," I said, looking in the window. "Jalan-jalan aja, ya? Terima Kasih." Thank you.
"Kembali," he answered. You're welcome.
Even after four years here, I am continually amazed by the simple kindness of these people. And I am reminded, again, as always, of simpler, kinder times in America.
How can we get back to that again, I wonder.
But, well ... I already have.