One of the stories in the news lately has been that of a police officer who reached into his own pocket to buy a pair of boots for a homeless man sitting on a street in New York City. A random act of kindness shared between two strangers in the crowd of the city.
As I studied the picture on the front page of our local paper, it morphed from one of a police officer giving boots to a vagrant, to one of one human giving help to another. The fact that one happened to be a policeman, a representative of authority, and the other a vagrant, someone off the social map, became completely incidental.
It we take a cynical approach we can say big deal – all this is just the exception that makes the rule. What of the 99% confronted with exactly the same situations that do nothing? After reading this, we all feel a bit better about ourselves. But when we wake up the next morning, what has changed? Absolutely nothing!
Another scene that this brings to mind is that of Tienanmen Square – a single man standing in the path of a tank. Yes, this picture was seen around the world! Yes, we are talking about it to this day! But is China not the old oppressive autocracy that it always was?
To these cynics I would say that change is not simply incremental – There is a tipping point after which change is sudden, and often violent. No one can predict in advance when that point will be reached. Thus, the likelihood of any given spontaneous act of grace changing the world is infinitesimally low. That having been said, the same event at another point in time could make a difference. And with the fullness of time it shall!