It takes Humility to take the time to stop and listen to the problems of a person who is different from us.
A young white cop in Texas pulls over an elderly African-american woman for speeding. Right now, some of you are flinching and some of you are hopeful. It is sad that in our world we are so accustomed to negative stories, especially when there is a racial difference involved. Too frequently, we see negative examples played out on the national news and they make us flinch. But this is not one of those stories. This is a hopeful story.
Marsha was speeding. But there is more to the story than just a speeding ticket. Marsha was distracted as she drove away from the hospital. She was leaving a hospital in a town that she did not know very well. Her hometown did not have the same level of healthcare that the hospital in this unfamiliar town had. She had been at the hospital with her husband, who had contracted COVID-19. He had died that day. As she drove away from the hospital, alone and on strange roads, Marsha was going over the speed limit. It wasn’t long before she saw the flashing lights in her rearview mirror. She pulled over and sat in her car processing her grief and nervously waiting for the officer to approach her car.
Officer Casey had been a police officer for less than a year. Like many young officers, he got into law enforcement to serve his community and to help others. But he also had to meet certain metrics for traffic violations and community contacts. As he walked up to Marsha’s car, he saw her crying. This young man, a recent college graduate, and a green police officer, set an example for every cop in his agency. He set an example for all of us, actually.
Officer Casey spent more than an hour with Marsha. In a letter to the town’s police chief she said that Officer Casey treated her as if she was his mother. He listened to her, spoke to her, let her cry and even prayed with her. He had other responsibilities. He probably had “bigger fish to fry” than to sit on the side of the road and listen to an elderly woman cry. But that is what he did. He selflessly gave up his time for a stranger, a person he never met before, a person of another race. He was kind.
One of the simplest ways to describe Selflessness is to be kind. My mother used to say “Kindness, kindness, and kindness are the three most important words in the English language.” Being kind takes action. It takes Courage to step out of our comfort zones and be kind to someone we have never met. It takes Humility to take the time to stop and listen to the problems of a person who is different from us. In showing kindness to Marsha, Officer Casey exercised Courage, Humility and Selflessness that his entire department noticed.
The entire department noticed, not because Officer Casey went around the office telling everyone about what he did for Marsha. They noticed because Marsha made sure everyone knew. This was another example of Officer Casey exercising Selflessness. Because it truly isn’t a selfless act if we are looking to get recognized for it.
Black and white racial issues are real. They happen daily in small and large incidents. But there are also stories of kindness and Selflessness that should also give us hope. One person being kind can have an impact on the larger group. In many ways, all we need is someone to set the example. Thank you Officer Casey for setting that example. And thank you Marsha for letting us know about this one act of kindness that meant so much to you.
(Names have been changed)
Dig Deep Questions:
● When did you last experience a stranger being kind to you?
● What prevents you from being kind to somebody different from you?
Taking responsibility and exercising Selflessness is a lifelong journey for not only you, but your team. We want to partner with you as you make Selflessness part of your organizational culture. When it comes to remembering the definition of Selflessness, let us help to make it easy to keep it visible.
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