The world can be very cruel.
Certainly if you sit back and let mass media and pop culture swamp you, it can seem that way.
But look closer. Good people are doing good things all around us.
Take, for example, Florida police officer Vicki Thomas. In October 2013, she was called to a Publix supermarket in Miami. Jessica Robles had been apprehended by store security trying to steal $300 worth of groceries. Upon questioning Ms. Robles, Officer Thomas found that she was a tragically desperate single mother with no money to feed her children. The officer ran a background check. She had no criminal record.
“She touched me,” Officer Thomas said. “I could relate. I was a single mom and, without the help of my family, that could have been me.”
Instead of arresting her, Officer Thomas bought the woman groceries to take home to her family and told her the location of local charities and food banks that would help her. News of Officer Thomas’ charitable act spread like wildfire, with Ms. Robles receiving multiple offers of help, including a job offer, from like-minded good Samaritans.
And likewise in 2013, an Oklahoma mother of four showed just how powerful kindness can be. Jessica Eaves was grocery shopping when she saw that her wallet was missing. There was only one man in the aisle with her. Rather than call for help, she approached the man directly.
“Sir, my wallet’s missing out of my purse and you were the only other person in the aisle,” Eaves said, confronting the man. She gave him an ultimatum. He could either return her wallet and she would buy him some groceries or she would take his photo and call the police.
“He just kind of stared at me for a second and he reached into his hoodie pocket and handed it to me,” Eaves said. After she purchased $27 worth of groceries, the man started crying and apologized for his behavior. “The last thing he said to me was ‘I’m embarrassed, I have kids, I’m broke and I’m sorry.’”
News of her bravery and compassion likewise went viral.
“What I did that day should be the norm,” she said.
She’s right. Can you imagine a world where people regularly treat others as these two women did?
Roughly two-thirds of highly religious adults (65%) say they have donated money, time or goods to help the poor in the past week.
We may be closer than you think.
In 2016, the Pew Research Institute issued a report entitled “Religion in Everyday Life.” It was a result of their exhaustive research into the motives and behavior of religious people in America. What did they find?
Roughly two-thirds of highly religious adults (65%) say they have donated money, time or goods to help the poor in the past week. Among the less religious, the number is still a remarkable 41%.
In addition, roughly 7 in 10 Christians say being grateful for what they have (71%), forgiving those who have wronged them (69%) and always being honest (67%) are essential to being Christian. The numbers are strikingly similar among people of other faiths.
While the religious have no monopoly on virtue, it is clear that for many, religion serves as a beacon for goodwill, care for one’s fellow man, and kindness. And in following that beacon, people can change the world.