AT ANY MOMENT YOUR LIFE COULD DEPEND ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.
*** You are in a serious accident, and your heart has stopped beating. If you do not receive emergency medical care you will die. Only a few moments before you had your entire life ahead of you, but now all your plans and goals are suspended as your life hangs in the balance. Fortunately, several people rush to your aid. One of them knows CPR and quickly begins to perform the life saving procedure. He keeps blood circulating through your body until EMTs arrive and take over. A few weeks later you are back at work and feeling good. You never find out the name of the person who saved your life, but it doesn’t really matter. You are just grateful that you survived because of the kindness of a stranger.
*** You have been in the hospital for weeks and your health has deteriorated rapidly. You fear the worst when your doctor comes in and explains that you need an organ transplant immediately or you will not survive. Time is now your enemy. As the days go by you become increasingly despondent as you try to accept the inevitability of death. You have a heightened awareness of just how desperate your situation is becoming hour by hour. But then one morning the news comes that you are going to receive the organ that you need to stay alive. A compassionate human being has given you the gift of life through her own death. You survive because a stranger was willing to help someone else even after her life was over.
*** The smell of smoke wakes you up in the middle of the night. You are a single mother with three little girls. Terrified, you rush to their rooms to try to get them to safety. You manage to lead your two older daughters out but now the smoke is thick and choking you. Flames begin to climb and the heat is so intense you can’t stand it. You realize you can’t make it back into the house. You collapse in the yard sobbing knowing that your baby is going to die as she screams for her mommy to save her. Your heart is breaking. Suddenly the front door bursts open and a man comes running out the house carrying your precious child. Someone passing by had noticed the smoke and flames and gone in through a window to rescue her. You cannot begin to express the profound thanks and love that you feel towards this person who took such a dangerous risk on your child’s behalf. For the rest of your life you will never forget the moment your baby was saved by a total stranger.
These dramatic examples are not so different from what happens every day in extreme poverty. Each day 30,000 human beings die because they did not receive the necessary help from strangers that could have spared their lives. Of those 30,000 deaths, 25,000 of them are children, most under the age of five. Strangers did not show them kindness and did not come to their aid. They refused to take action, and so they died.
They died from hunger related causes because no one sent emergency food. They died from unsafe water because no one would help them build a well. They died from preventable diseases because no one provided vaccines. They died from sickness and injuries because no one offered medical care. But most of all they died because no one took the time and interest in helping them become self-sufficient so they would no longer have to depend on others for their very existence. However, at this time they are dependent on the kindness of strangers and that means us. We are the ones with the wealth, the knowledge and the tools to change their lives. We have the ability to save their children and yet we don’t do the necessary things to make that happen.
At some point in our lives we are all at the mercy of strangers. That means the day will come when you will desperately need someone you don’t know to save your life or the life of a loved one. Will they be there for you? Will they demonstrate the kindness and compassion needed to save your child, or will they decide not to get involved? Will they decide it is too much trouble to come to your assistance? Will they decide that you are not worth the effort?
On any given day your child’s life could be saved because someone you’ve never met has the courage to step in and take action in a critical situation. You can only hope that when that time comes there will be individuals who put aside their self-interest, their apathy and their cynicism to intervene on your child’s behalf. That is the same hope of the one billion human beings who struggle each day in extreme poverty. However, for 10,950,000 of them that hope will not be realized this year. They, and their children, will die needlessly while those who could save them refuse to do so. Life does not have to be this way. We can be the strangers that show compassion and mercy to helpless children. We can be the ones who make a heartfelt difference in someone’s life. We can be the people that begin to change the world into a place filled with compassion and tolerance.
IT WILL REQUIRE THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS TO SAVE THE MILLIONS OF LIVES AT RISK IN EXTREME POVERTY.