The Kindness of Strangers.
Updated: Apr 17
Woops, yesterday I forgot to write my daily post and some of you guys even reached out to remind me! So today, I will do two questions in one post!
What's a talent you have that surprises people?
Sometimes, when there is a piano nearby, I sit down and play a song that I have memorized since my days of piano lessons as a child. Usually, people are surprised that I can play the piano and have some knowledge of music. I think that happens with the guitar too - because I usually play for my own enjoyment (and I am super shy about it), so people have no idea that I am musical at all!
When you were affected by the kindness of strangers?
I love to catch little moments of engagement in everyday life - maybe I don't have anything to do with the interaction but just watching it can make me tear up. I am really moved when people engage with homeless people or begging children. I recently read a response to an Instagram post from @blackcoffeewithwhitefriends that I want to share with you about interacting with homeless people in America:
"I have made as a practice for years to make eye contact and smile even if I am not giving money. It occurred to me once as I watched a line of cars steadfastly refuse to look at the guy panhandling that if people treat you like you're invisible, you start to wonder if people can see you at all? I decided I would make sure they always know I see them, even if I don't have any cash on me." -@shans99
I fully agree with the focus of acknowledging the human behind the request. Giving money is secondary to the priority of acknowledging the human worth of the person in front of you. By overcoming the ease of eye-contact avoidance, we can reestablish human value with just a smile and a "Have a good day!"
This conversation and situation is so different in Turkey than it is in America. In fact, one of the most beautiful characteristics of Turkish culture at large is how they interact with people begging, especially children. While living in Istanbul, I would often see young college-age guys playfully interacting with the begging children and buying them a meat durum. I do not even have the imagination to replicate this interaction happening in America - the disdain for the homeless is so great. Even though America has more wealth and resources, I find that Turkish culture generally does a better job sharing what they have to care for the less fortunate. Of course, these are generalizations and the influx of refugees in Turkey has stretched the country and society beyond their comfort. However, during my years lived in Turkey and America, it is very interesting to notice the extremely different responses to wildly similar circumstances.
What’s the best summer/temporary job you ever had?
Artwork by Alessandra Olanow © alessandraolanow.com