Weekly challenge: Kindness we sometimes forget

Writing Challenge
Honey versus Vinegar
Small moments of kindness peek through our everyday lives, from your neighbors’ “Good morning!” to a surprise “I’ll take care of that for you” at the office. This week, we want you to explore what that kindness means to you, and share it with others.

In Australia, and in most other countries as far as I can tell, nurses and paramedics are grossly underpaid, ridiculously overworked and vastly undervalued. We expect them to be there when we need them, often abuse them if they’re not – or if we’re feeling particularly stressed – and forget them when we return to our normal lives.

They see us at our worst, and still manage to give of their best.

They are a special breed.

Could you do what they do, in the spirit in which they do it? I couldn’t.

Inevitably, there’s the odd exception: the paramedic with overwhelming personal woes, the nurse with a headache, the one whose workload has finally got to him/her, or – like the first labour-ward Sister I encountered – the one whose mouth says she sucked a lemon years ago and never got over it. But the vast majority are patient, caring, tolerant and cheerful beyond average human expectation. And if it’s all a facade and they scuttle off to the nurse’s station to gripe and complain, who can blame them? It’s not a facade many of us could maintain for single shift, let alone a lifetime of them, and they deserve better than we give them.

Neither is it valid to say that they’re paid to be kind. Nonsense! They’re paid (poorly) to minister to our physical needs at the time. Kindness is a bonus we often don’t deserve.

So on the honey side of this equation, nurses and paramedics are top of my list.

And yet it’s often the random acts of kindness that get the most attention. Perhaps it’s the unexpectedness of them.

On a recent trip to Sydney, I came across a prang – two cars in an unloving metal embrace in the middle of the highway. Strangers in passing cars had stopped at their own risk, to redirect traffic and minister to the victims until official help arrived. I wasn’t needed, so I drove on, but I was still thinking about it hours later.

I’m not sure why I was so moved. Perhaps it was the reminder, in the middle of nowhere, that people are innately good. What saddens me is that I needed reminding: that small, petty acts of selfish unkindness, and larger unkindnesses born of fear, intolerance, greed, and sheer political expedience, are thrust so rudely and constantly into our faces that we start to think that’s all there is.

But it isn’t. It really isn’t.

Celebrating 200 years of nursing at Sydney Hospital nurseuncut.com.au

Celebrating 200 years of nursing at Sydney Hospital


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11 Responses to Weekly challenge: Kindness we sometimes forget

  1. Martha Kennedy says:

    No. It really isn’t. I’ve often been impressed by scenes like this on the freeway. California is known for horrible drivers, but when something is really wrong (a fire, a casualty accident, etc.) everyone on the road shifts into a different gear from the usual abrasive, tail-gating, finger up-thrusting ego-mania. I passed a body, probably an illegal alien trying to cross the freeway, lying prone and clearly dead on the outward edge of an entry-ramp. Around him was a half circle of people with flashlights making sure nothing further happened to him and waiting for the police. It chills me to think of it.

  2. bkpyett says:

    I agree totally with all you’ve said Helen. My mother was a nurse, and in the ‘good old days’, nurses were paid even worse. Their hours were extremely long and tedious. Hopefully things are improving…? Belief that people are good, can be shattered so easily when one listens to the radio.

  3. ChristineR says:

    We had an accident out front of our place a while back and people pulled over everywhere, and they were directing traffic and helping people from both cars within seconds, well before the police and paramedics arrived. It was heartening to see the co-operation. I just watched from my lounge room window, drawn out of bed by the bang. My neighbour was already speaking to a woman with children, and I could tell she had offered her home.

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  5. Hey 🙂 We love this article and would like to feature it on Kindness Blog with links back to you. Would that be OK? No problems if not 🙂

  6. Pingback: We’ll Ride Together, Australia | Ramisa the Authoress

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