The Good Samaritan (JB)


julianabjornsdottir_dlI was planning to write about politics this week, about 39 members of staff at the Icelandic Broadcasting Company, RÚV, being laid off and another 21 to be laid off in the new year.

I also wanted to mention the state of our healthcare system and the severe cuts there that have led to a number of layoffs in clinics and regional hospitals around the country.

Both are consequences of the financial crisis. The recent layoffs are terribly timed at the dawn of the holiday season. But then I had a better idea...

Last week, I was driving home after a grueling gym session. I was tired and my mind was elsewhere as I was busy contemplating whether I’d have time to make it to our local grocer.

One of the hubcaps of my car fell off the front wheel on the passenger side but as I hadn’t noticed, I would have driven all the way home if it hadn’t been for the Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan drove a small car, maroon red and made the effort to let me know what I’d lost. It was an act of kindness, a selfless act and I am ever so grateful for his kind gesture.

It is a rare gesture; most people wouldn’t bother. We are usually too busy minding our own business.

I am as guilty of that as the next person.

But looking at this complete stranger I could tell he was kind. He is the kind of person we should inspire to be: a caring citizen.

Remember that film from 2000, Pay it Forward, about the boy who paid it forward and by doing so made the world around him a more beautiful place. The notion of such kindness is like news from another world to most of us. We forget that we live in a world with other people, with people who have lives and struggle in life just like we do.

They feel all the feelings we feel and they have their own fears and struggles. One person can make a difference with a single gesture that makes life better for the next person. I won’t have to invest in another hubcap because the man in the maroon red car told me it’d fallen off, as much as it inconvenienced him.

If I want to be a better person, I need to follow his example and do something good, do something that makes a difference to someone else. It doesn’t mean we should all go out there now and look for someone to help.

To pick up the wallet the busy father of three dropped as his kids simultaneously tried to eat out of the sweet containers at the supermarket in the Kringlan mall. He won’t have to cancel his credit card and debit card and he can pay for the groceries he came to buy because someone bothered.

The tired student who leaves his smart phone behind at the library after a long day of studying for an exam will be greatly relieved to have it returned to him before they even realize it was lost. It doesn’t take a grand gesture to be a good person. It takes a single act of kindness. A single moment to trust that not everybody is to be treated like a potential suspect. As a woman I know that feeling all too well.

But we need to learn to trust in each other more. To be together in society and not live within a comfortable bubble and let the world pass us by as if it has nothing to do with us.

Because it does. It has everything to do with us and the holiday season is the best time to celebrate our togetherness.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir –

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.