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National Editorials & Columns

The overwhelming kindness of others

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, messages of kindness have overflowed the Internet, like a tidal wave of affirmations that goodness will prevail.

That goodness is all around us.

I have been genuinely moved by this outpouring of support and positive thinking.

The American spirit is a beautiful thing, and in times such as these, I am especially proud it burns in me.

However, I think it is equally important in times such as these to remember that when we speak of helpers, of kindness and of goodness, we are not speaking of qualities limited to the Caucasian, the Christian and the American.

Kindness and goodness are everywhere, in every race, in every religion, in every nationality. And yes, it will prevail.

I have had the fortune of spending two years backpacking the world. There have been many experiences in which the goodness of strangers has warmed my heart and, at times, even saved my life.

People all around the world have been praying for America during this hardship. Good people.

And I’m dedicating this column to them.

This is my planetwide shoutout to goodness!

• To the Persian troubadour I met in Sicily while he was leaving rocks he had painted gold on doorsteps for Catholic children to find on their way to church on the morning of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I never will forget the look of wonder on those kids’ faces.

• To the Spanish restaurateur who gave me his umbrella when it started to pour and who looked unsurprised when I brought it back, as I promised I would, after the rain stopped.

• To all the Japanese on my flight who offered to open up their homes to me when I learned that I was not allowed to spend the night in the Tokyo airport as I had planned.

• To the Japanese man who, upon getting past the language barrier and realizing that I was honestly looking for a place to sleep and was not intending to have sex with him, graciously set me up in a hotel and then, the next morning, picked me up and brought me to the bullet train as he said he would.

• To the Indian man who gave me bus fare when I arrived in France without any euros and there was not a single ATM in sight.

• To the tribal woman in Namibia who gave me the sweetest driving directions by drawing on a piece of paper how to get to her sister’s house, which was 45 minutes away, and then instructed me to ask her sister to draw how to reach the next leg of my trip.

• To the Iraqi travelers who were more than tolerant and helped me pick out flag patches in a gift shop after I accidentally experienced a bit too much of Amsterdam.

• To the New Zealander who bought me a beer because I looked as if I had “carked it” after a 10-hour hike.

• To the Italian ItaliaRail worker who watched over me like a mama hawk for two days during a train strike, not allowing anyone to enter my train compartment and bringing me food after I escaped a near kidnapping.

• To the German bike rental salesman who offered to lend me his car when he deemed the bike ride I wanted to go on to be too dangerous and who, when I returned to him a few days later with broken bones, never said, “I told you so.”

• To the Jewish German woman whose house I crashed that bike in front of, who brought me into her home, bandaged my wounds and used a German-English dictionary to explain how her sister escaped Nazi Germany and lives in Wisconsin.

• To the Dutchman who gave me his room to sleep in on the overnight boat ride from Greece to Italy after he heard the backpackers were being forced to stay on the deck in the freezing rain.

• To the Israeli woman who gave me her last piece of paper so that I could leave a prayer at the Western Wall.

• To the recent British marathon runners who wore black ribbons to show support for those Americans affected by the Boston Marathon attack.

• And to the innumerable Americans who have touched me with their infinite kindnesses over the years.

Thank you.

Yes, goodness will prevail.

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