Day 58/365 - On the kindness of strangers

Day 58
2/27/17

Today, while browsing Netflix for a few minutes, I stumbled upon an interesting documentary series: “The Kindness Diaries.” In it, an Englishman, Leon Logothetis, living in LA sets off on a quest to discover whether he can make it across the globe with just his trusty yellow motorcycle and the clothes on his back. 

The protagonist has a background in finance, and was a successful broker. However, he realized that the money and stress weren’t making him happy, so he started to travel the world instead. This documentary series is his next project: he wants to test the theory that the kindness of strangers will help him fund the entire trip. Every day, he (and the camera-man not too far behind, I guess) sets out on the road on his bike he aptly called “Kindness 3000” and proceeds to ask strangers on the streets for food and lodging. 

As expected, there are plenty of skeptics along the way who are dubious of the purpose of the trip, suspicious of the stranger, or otherwise unhelpful. What is surprising, however, is how many people come up to the plate and agree to feed, entertain, and welcome this stranger into their homes. Moreover, it’s the people who have the least to their name that seem to be willing to give the most. In Pittsburgh, a homeless man invited Leon to share lodging space, and even gave him change of clothes. Another struggling 2-man musician band also put him up in the most modest accommodations, sharing what little they had. Meanwhile, he struggled the most in asking well-off owners of yachts for lend a helping hand.

The premise of the show does not only make us question our inherent goodness, it makes us hopeful for how much that goodness can stretch. If we could only find it in our hearts to be a little more giving to one another, maybe there won’t be a need to be suspicious and mistrustful. The protagonist gives a gift to one person each episode who went above and beyond in their kindness, while they may not have been dealt a good hand in life themselves. These counter gifts are very touching, and give me hope for the goodness of humanity.