Thiagram inspired me by writing about this daily spark reflection that says:
"One small action leads to another, which can lead to many. Your actions may inspire others to do the same, with far-reaching results that completely outweigh that first effort. You'll probably have no idea how much of a total effect your actions will have. But that kindness will often be paid back two-, three- or even tenfold. If not from the person you helped, then from someone further down the "kindness" chain. So go try it out!"
In her comments somebody writes that she is still ashamed that she did not interfere many years ago when somebody needed help.
My experience is that it takes practise to help strangers! We tend to think that it is "just" to go out there and be nice and good things will happen. But reaching out takes an effort.
I am swedish, our national character is that we are shy and reserved. We are very scared of interfering or disturbing. So when things happen we stand paralyzed by the side and have a hard time to do something. Not because we are cowards, not because we are evil – we are not used to it and therefore we hesitate – that is my theory...
The conclusion is that it takes practise. We have to start by reaching out when it is safe and involves no risk of embarrassment.
To me the "practise" is to say hello to strangers while waiting somewhere. No chit-chat, just "in this weather you really need woollen gloves" or something.
A good practise is also to ask for help with little things. Ask for change when you need a shoppingchart (you need a coin to release it from the stack)
My theory is that there are a lot of small things you can do to have a better contact with your surrounding every day. If you lift this to the surface and focus and give yourself the challenge of getting contact say five times a day – you will get in the habit of being aware and present – and the day your help is needed you will not feel shy or hesitate because you are not sure if you interpret the situation right...
To reach out is harder than you think if you are not in the habit of doing it. Habit can be learned. But as everything – it is easier to learn and change if you feel safe and the steps are not to big.
I think we tend to ignore that there is a personal risk of embarrassment to reach out (what if we interpreted the situation wrong and were not needed, how embarrassing!). By ignoring that fear we tend to judge ourself when we do not help, because we have not taken the importance of practising in a safe surrounding seriously.
I hope this comes out in english the way I argue in swedish...
Today I will stretch a little bit outside my comfort zone and make contact without being asked – I never know when the competence of helping strangers will be needed!