Kindness vs. Thievery

The youth dashed just barely ahead of a seasoned security officer and a tall, unadorned man with greying hair. The officer grabbed onto the ghetto-capitalist high fashion the boy wore for only a moment before a burst of speed left him emptyhanded. The cackle the thief let loose was full of arrogance, self-righteousness and ugly pride, an utterance unmistakably declairing, “You’ll never catch me!” The prick soon outdistanced his pursuers, escaping into his slavery, wilfully harming himself and others, taking amusement and a twisted sense of self-worth from thievery.
I walked into the grocery store and purchased the few items I needed, putting the chase I had just witnessed from my mind as the priority of nourishment took over. On my way out of the store I exchanged hellos with a man sitting at a small table with all the trappings of a collection for charity, notably a large (though not very full) jar for holding donations. I asked what he was collecting for and he shared that he represented an institute that aids the blind (I believe it was either CNIB or AEBC). “Let me see what I have,” I said and proceeded to search my pockets. I found coins but kept checking my pockets, knowing I had a couple bills. Finding them in my jacket pocket, I placed the crumpled currency in the jar and moved toward the door, returning to take a mint the man offered before moving out into the cold.
Kindness was on my mind as I walked home. I thought of the small ways I was able to cultivate kindness that day, from opening a door for a hobbling old woman, to sharing passing smiles with a stranger, to giving what I had to a charity. I thought of the many missed opportunities I also had that day. In my moments of absentmindedness and apathy there were numerous small acts I did not do that I could easily have if I was aware. In Bearing Witness, Bernie Glassman wrote about becoming aware of these moments and said, let me paraphrase, be thankful for the opportunity to be compassionate. I truly am thankful for the times when I am able to act on kindness and strive to make it as integral and natural in every moment as I can, though I’ve a long way to go.
My thoughts then returned to the thief I had seen earlier. A possible connection formed. Had the boy stolen from the jar of charity? It seemed like the most logical and easy target, and might explain why the jar was fairly low. It then became clearer to me how we are all thieves. Yes, there is of course the aspect of “I am he and he is me” oneness that is important to be mindful of, but there’s a more tangible meaning. We all steal from ourselves and from the world by ignoring or discarding potential to do good. Those moments I gave up the chance to act with kindness were my thievery, not wilful harm, but still a loss for myself and for the world. While we live with selfishness and apathy we are giving in to the slyest enemies of holiness, being thieves unaware.

2 comments on “Kindness vs. Thievery

  1. I have enjoyed your blog. You seem to be a wise person.

    Though I take a more irreverant view of things, I think you might find my blog interesting.

  2. I have enjoyed your blog. You seem to be a wise person.

    Though I take a more irreverant view of things, I think you might find my blog interesting.

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