Posts Tagged ‘Generosity’
Two days ago, I was in China, speaking to a bunch of influential business leaders. One of them posed a challenge: “You speak about Vinoba Bhave, the spiritual heir of Gandhi, and how he walked 80K kilometers across India and inspired people to donate 5 million acres to their neighbors. Yes, it might’ve been an unprecedented feat in the history of mankind, but really, how many people remember Vinoba today? Instead, think of how many people remember Steve Jobs and the legacy he left behind.” From a short-term impact point of view, it’s a thoughtful dilemma.
In fact, Forbes magazine did a piece which reflected similarly, asking the question: “Who has changed the world more: Bill Gates or Mother Teresa?” And they concluded Bill Gates. My response to this industrialist, though, was a true story that happened a few weeks ago at a school near Pune. I asked the same question to them: who do you want to be when you grow up — Bill Gates or Mother Teresa? Usually about 60-80% of them will vote for Bill Gates, but here, a majority of them said Mother Teresa. So I probed further. Why? As people started raising their hands, a shy young girl — maybe 11 years old — raised her hand, hesitated, and then put it down. Seeing that, I encouraged her to speak, and her response completely floored me.
“Sir, Bill Gates used the power of money to change the world, and Mother Teresa used the power of love to change the world. And I think love is more powerful than money.”
End of story. It was simple, clear, elegant and spot-on that it required no further responses from the class.**
The end of that story is the beginning of an audacious possibility. In keeping with the theme of our gathering, my Impossible Dream, and one that I’m sure we all share, is a world where we elevate this spirit of love from the mere emotional ranks of Bollywood to the infinitely stronger spiritual ranks of our hearts. As humanity, we have understood intellectual quotient (IQ), and even emotional quotient (EQ) but what the world needs now is CQ – Compassion Quotient. It is an intelligence of the heart. More than a decade ago, neuroscientists discovered that, physically speaking, there are actually neurons not just in our brain but also in our heart. As Kabir and many sages tell us so clearly: Open your heart and it can contain the whole universe!
Our greatest hope for awakening our collective compassion quotient comes from – children! Children like that 11 year old who just intuitively knew that if you are moved by love, you can move mountains. In conversations with Dr. Maria Montessori, Gandhi said it very clearly, “In the early part of my life, I discovered that if I was to realize Truth, I must obey, even at the cost of my life, the law of love. And having been blessed with children, I discovered that the law of love could be best learned through little children.”
The thing about this law of love is that it has a half-life that is far, far greater than the law of stuff. Its impact lasts for many generations. Inspiration from our gadgets devolves into mere information, sometimes within a matter of minutes. But when that same inspiration is delivered to us through someone who walks that talk, it activates the information in a context of vibrational aliveness. It resonates deep within our consciousness. And this is why, in the long term, the law of stuff stands no chance against the law of love. Work that is moved by love, no matter how small and humble, has an unending after-life.
A few years ago, my wife and I went on a walking pilgrimage. We started at the Gandhi Ashram in Gujarat and walked south; we ate whatever food was offered and slept wherever place was offered. It was an experiment that radically changed our lives. Along the way one thing we repeatedly encountered were the ripples of the law of love, particularly from Gandhi and Vinoba who had often walked those same paths. During a visit to a small village in the area, Gandhi realized it was 6PM – which was his prayer time. He was taking a walk on the farm, with some elders, but he immediately sat down right there for prayer. A bit thrown off, the elders gathered a couple folks who happened to be nearby.
Govardhan Patel was one of them. He was in fifth grade at the time, his mom had passed away when he was 2, and his father had polio; he wasn’t all that interested in Gandhi. As serendipity would have it, though, he sat there in silence during Gandhi’s prayer. And something shifted. He sat in on Gandhi’s evening talk, and that very same day he decided to dedicate his whole life to service. When we met him he was a ripe 82-years-young and was still going strong, having transformed not only his village but dozens of others.
There are many stories like his, for instance that of Nagardas Shrimali. At a train station, while Gandhi is just passing by, amidst the throngs of people, he yells out: “Bapu, what should I do with my life?” Bapu says, “You go and teach your values to other children like you.” Shrimali was 16 at the time, from that day forth to his last breath, Nagardas – who was “untouchable” — dedicated his life to educating children.
Authentic inspiration has a long after-life, indeed. And my friends, we need to rekindle this law of love within us, and within our greatest hope — our children, the next generation.
I want to end with a true story.
Many years ago, my dear friend Jacob Needleman was teaching a class at San Francisco State University, and he asked a question to his class of thirty students. “How can we be good?” One student raised his hand and said, “I learned goodness from my 5-year-old son.” He goes on to explain: “My son and I were enjoying Christmas in Mexico, as he was excitedly playing with the toys he had received just the night before. A kid from the neighboring slum comes by, and I told my son to give him one of his toys. After some pleas and tears, he finally agrees and picks up a toy. His least favorite toy!” In a vintage Mufasa-Simba moment from Lion King, the father looks his 5-year-old in the eyes and says, “No, son, not that toy. Give him your favorite toy.”
At this point, the son instinctively protests, but then looking at his father’s stern-yet-compassionate look, he begrudgingly goes to the door to give away his favorite toy. Naturally, the father figured he will have to console his son when he returns; lo and behold, much to his surprise, the son returns back with a hop in his step. With an innocence befitting to a 5-year-old, he looks his Father in the eyes and says, “Dad, that was amazing. Can I do it again?”
This is the law of love, and may we all keep doing it again and again and again.
~ Nipun Mehta
Happiness is like jam, you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself.
The police had declared Monday, November 14th of 2011 as the day of the raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment. It was the first Occupy site to call for a general strike that shut down the fifth largest port in the country; it was also the first Occupy gathering to report a shooting and a murder, as police violence also reached new heights. With tensions mounting amidst political chaos, police escalated their violent crackdowns and the narrative of fear. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent in preparation for the raid, police from around the state were called in, and uncertainty filled the air.
The night before, Pancho Ramos Stierle heard about growing tensions in the community and thought, “If police are stepping up their violence, we need to go and step up our nonviolence.” So on that Monday morning at 3:30AM, Pancho and his housemate Adelaja went to the site of the Occupy Oakland raid. With an upright back and half-lotus posture, they started meditating. Many factions of protesters were around but the presence of strong meditators changed the vibe entirely. Around 6:30AM, the police showed up in full force. Full-out riot gear, pepper spray, rubber bullets, tear gas. All media was present, expecting a headline story around this incredibly tense scene. Instead, they found 32 people, all peaceful, with Pancho and Adeleja meditating with their eyes closed in the middle of the Plaza. As the police followed their orders of arresting them, people took photos — particularly of two smiling meditators surrounded by police looking like they’re ready to go to war. Within a day, that photo would spread to millions around the world, as Occupy Oakland raid ended without any reported violence.
One such experience can be enough for a lifetime. For Pancho, though, this is just run of the mill. In small ways and big, he is always looking to step up his compassion in the most unexpected places.
Raised in Mexico, Pancho was fascinated by the stars, planets, and galaxies. He would always look up in outer space and admire the border-less cosmos that we inhabit; and he’d imagine looking down at Planet Earth from outer space — and not seeing any lines across countries. He envisioned a world of oneness and unity, and when he got a full scholarship to study the cosmos at University of California at Berkeley, his vision got a huge boost. He moved to Berkeley to pursue his PhD in Astrophysics.
On campus one day, he serendipitously engages in a profound hallway conversation with a janitor. It opens his eyes to the janitor’s incredibly difficult life. Something awakens in him, as he actively starts looking for solutions. “I saw that instead of PhD’s, what the world needs more are PhDo’s,” Pancho recalls.
As time went on, Pancho realizes that his research supports an institution that actively proliferates nuclear weapons. That tips him over the edge. Not only did he stop cooperating with the university system, he starts raising a dissenting voice.
When his complains fall on deaf ears, he partakes in a nine-day fast with other students and professors across California to request an open dialogue with the UC Regents — the governing body of the University of California. The fast cultimates at a public hearing of the Regents. When the student request is denied, they lock arms in nonviolent protest and sit peacefully. To disengage them, the police are ordered to make an example of one of them. They lift up this man, slam him to the ground, put a knee on his neck, twist his arms behind his back and handcuff him ruthlessly. Supporters start shouting at the overt show of inhumane behavior towards a fragile student who hadn’t eaten a single morsel of food for nine days. That man was none other than Pancho.
The story would end there, except that Pancho’s strength resided beyond his body. “It was excruciating pain,” Pancho recalls. Perhaps the police officer picked on Pancho because of his small and skinny frame, but the outer force is no match for Pancho’s inner might. The injustice is obvious, but Pancho knew that the officer is not to blame. In a completely unrehearsed move of raw compassion, Pancho, with all the love in his heart, looks directly into the police officer’s eyes, and says, “Brother, I forgive you. I am not doing this for me, I am not doing this for you. I am doing it for your children and the children of your children.” The overflowing love coming from the heart of this man on a nine-day fast is unmistakable. This is not the kind of encounter that police are trained in. Seeing his confusion, Pancho steps up his empathy and changes the topic. Looking at the last name on his badge, he asks for the officer’s first name. And addressing him as a family member, he says, “Brother, let me guess, you must like Mexican food.” [Awkward pause.] “Yes.” “Well, I know this place in San Francisco that has the best carnitas and fajitas and quesadillas, and I tell you what, when I get done with this and you get done with this, I’d like to break my fast with you. What do you say?”
The police officer is completely flabbergasted, his humanity irrevocably invoked. He accepts the invitation! Dropping eye contact gently, he then walks around Pancho and voluntarily loosens his handcuffs. In silence. By now, all of Pancho’s comrades — twelve of them — are also in handcuffs, so the officer then goes around to loosen everyone else’s handcuffs too.
There are those who use anger, sarcasm and parody to confront unjust action. Pancho does it with just the simple — and radical — power of love. If he had a superpower, that would be it. He is a fearless soldier of compassion, unconditionally willing to hold up a fierce mirror of love.
For Pancho, the whole World, every moment, is his field of practice. When he was recently asked what nourishes him, his response was clear: meditation and small acts of kindness. Meditation deepens his awareness while small acts of kindness deepens his inter-connectedness. Or as Pancho would sum it up, “Meditation is the DNA of the kindness revolution.” Ever since he first went to a meditation retreat, he has continued to meditate everyday. “Pancho 2.0” is what he calls himself since then. It was as if he discovered a new technology to battle our burning world.
Spirituality often sees activism as unnecessarily binding, while activism often sees spirituality as a navel-gazing escape. For Pancho, though, the two paths merge into one. Meditation is internal service, while service is external meditation.
In Arizona, when Pancho is arrested for protesting immigration laws that President Obama called unconstitutional, he smiles peacefully for his mug shot. The Sheriff yells out an order: “Stop smiling.” Immediately, it mirrors the ridiculousness of the request. Several years ago, some of Pancho’s friends lived in a tree to ignite a conversation around “chopping down 300 year old trees in 30 minutes”. When the authorities put a barricade around the tree to starve the tree-sitters, Pancho shows up to meditate and spread “metta” (loving kindness) to all those around him. While sitting peacefully under the tree, he is arrested. His offense quite literally read: “Disturbing the peace.”
Ultimately, it was in Gandhi that Pancho found his greatest role model for social change. Perhaps for the first time, history had seen someone manifest seismic systemic shifts in the world solely through the power of inner transformation. Gandhi opposed unjust action, not just without violence but with radical love for everyone including the person doing the harm; and for every act of resistance, he advocated nine more actions for constructive social change.
“Nonviolence isn’t just a philosophy of resistance. It is a way of life. Nonviolence is the thoughts we have, the words that we use, the clothes that we wear, the things that we say. It is not just an absence of violence, not even just the absence of wanting to cause harm. Nonviolence is a state when your heart is so full of love, compassion, kindness, generosity and forgiveness that you simply don’t have any room for anger, frustration or violence,” Pancho describes.
When Pancho stopped cooperating with the University of California system, he lost his student visa. In light of his courage, more than a dozen people offered to help reinstate his status. He appreciated the gesture but chose to stay undocumented. More than being in one geographical location or another, he was more interested in blooming wherever he was planted. Now, all of a sudden, being “undocumented”, he got an experiential insight into what that meant for 11 million people living in the United States; he couldn’t work, he couldn’t have a bank account or a credit card, he couldn’t own anything and he’d have to work low-wage labor jobs, without any insurance, just to survive.
Here is someone capable of being a rocket scientist, whose father is an Economics scholar and author in Mexico, who chooses to live without any financial currency — just so he can be of service to his struggling brethren. He is sustained purely by social capital. His tendency to constantly seek to be helpful earns him many friends, who would host him one day of the week. And on days that he didn’t have a host, he’d just live out in the woods (“Redwood Cathedral” as he calls it). Such details don’t matter much for Pancho. All his possessions fit into one bag pack, as his life organizes around doing acts of service.
When Pancho learned about the troubled situation in his neighboring East Oakland, he was quite moved. Rife with gang warfare, it is an area that most people have written off. Every week, residents hear the sounds of gun shots being fired — and that’s no exaggeration. It’s a community with 53 liquor stores and no grocery stores. The tensions between the police and the community have continued to escalate, while traditional civic programs haven’t made much of a dent.
So Pancho decides to do something about it, with an altogether different framework. Instead of helping from the outside, he wanted to become one of them; instead of just receiving external aid, he wondered if the community could not only discover undiscovered gifts but then share them freely with others.
With a few like-hearted friends, Pancho rents a house right on the border of two gangs. They call their home “Casa de Paz” — house of peace. The shared values of the house include 2 hours of daily meditation, no drinking, and a vegan diet. And no locks on the doors — anyone can come in any time.
Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, they meditate and do yoga at the local Cesar Chavez park (which has been home to several shootings in recent months). People have all kinds of reactions to their public meditations. One time, a mildly drunk man with bloodshot eyes is roaming the park with his girlfriend. Initially, they smirk and make snide remarks but then as they approach Pancho and his two housemates sitting in crossed legged meditation, Pancho opens his eyes with a loving embrace. As Pancho reaches to grab something from his bag, the man instinctively reached for something (possibly a gun) in his pocket. “Brother, here’s a fresh, local, organic strawberry for you,” Pancho said while holding up the edible, red-colored gift from Nature.
On another occasion, their neighbor’s teenage daughter attempts to commit suicide, on a Friday afternoon. The sounds of sirens create a mild panic in the community but for Pancho and his housemates, it is another opportunity to spread love. They show up to comfort their neighbors, with a kettle of hot tea, as the family shares their troubles. Over the next month, that same teenage girl becomes a friend and gets interested in the farming projects at Casa de Paz.
Almost everyday, they facilitate these transformations. Another time, a few young boys boisterously smash empty alcohol bottles on the streets, just as a prank. Instead of cringing in fear, Pancho runs outside, barefoot. The boys could see him and vice-versa, and instead of anger, Pancho humbly bends down and starts picking up the pieces of broken glass. Something about that act took the kids by surprise, as they slowly returned back. “Brother, you see that house over there? They have a young one, and when he walks out on the street, we don’t want them to get hurt,” Pancho explains to them in fluent Spanish. One thing after another, the kids themselves start helping pick up the broken pieces — and make role models of these love warriors on their street.
In isolation, these are small stories. Yet, collectively, its impact adds up. It binds the community, it creates new connections, it fills the gaps. Its like the silence in between the notes that allows the music to be heard.
“A lot of people talk their talk, but very few can walk their walk. Living in that community is hard, but living at Casa de Paz is even harder. They simply refuse to compromise their values, even in small ways, when no one else is looking. One time, I told them that perhaps their precepts were a bit too tough, and Pancho opened up a book and showed me 11 observances that Gandhi upheld at his ashram. I couldn’t say anything to that,” remembers Kanchan Gokhale, a long-time friend.
One of those observances is Silent Mondays. In the tradition of Gandhi, Pancho is silent every Monday. Even on that November 14th, the day of the Occupy Oakland raid which happened to be a Monday, Pancho stays silent on principle. As the riot police arrest him, he writes a comment on a piece of paper: “On Mondays, I practice silence. But I’d like you to hear that I love you.” The officer smiles. How could you not?
“On the face of it, Pancho doesn’t own anything. Yet, he is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met,” says another friend, Joanna Holsten.
How can you give, when you don’t have anything? That paradox is what makes Pancho shine. When a friend asked him about service, he took her to a local Farmers Market with two chairs. She sat on one chair, and put a sign on the other chair: “Free listening.” When Pancho and his friends saw unused fruit in their neighbor’s backyards, they requested to “glean” the fruit and then gift it to strangers: “This is a gift from East Oakland.” On a recent Sunday, they gave away 250 pounds of fresh, organic oranges that way.
Of the 32 people arrested at Occupy Oakland, 31 were sent home on the same day, with a misdemeanor charge. Pancho, however, is held for deportation. Very quickly, he becomes an iconic symbol for all that is wrong with the dominant paradigm. Within two days, twenty thousand people sign a petition to free Pancho. At his court arraignment, a large group of people show up to meditate — which has never happened in that courthouse, and again confuses all the police in riot-gear who are themselves drawn to the circle. People from around the world call the sheriffs and congress representatives. Media everywhere reports the story. Vigils are held by many around the globe. By the end of the four days, Alameda County D.A. drops all criminal charges and ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) releases Pancho from jail, without any bail. No one can really explain the unprecedented move by the authorities. “It was truly a miracle that he was let go,” Marianne Manilove posted on her FaceBook wall.
Francisco Ugarte, Pancho’s pro-bono laywer, happily reported, “They really didn’t know what to do with him.” He would relay Pancho’s notes from various jails that he was being shuttled to. “Tell them that I love them all. (It’s a) great place to meditate!” was his first note to friends and supporters. Francisco’s second note conveyed this message: “Pancho wanted me to convey to folks that he was, for some reason, identified as a particularly dangerous inmate, wearing a red clothes in jail, and shackled so that the movement of his arms was restrained. The shackles were metal, and surrounded his waist. Apparently, this treatment is reserved only for the most “dangerous” inmates. It is unclear why Alameda County have done this. But after a short conversation, we agreed that, without a doubt, Pancho was the most dangerous person in Santa Rita Jail — dangerous to the whole system. As Pancho said, “The most effective weapon against a system based on greed and violence is kindness.”
Kindness is indeed Pancho’s go-to weapon. When in doubt, be kind. Even otherwise, be kind.
As Pancho is shackled up in solitary confinement, he creates a makeshift cushion with his shoes and starts meditating. The guards themselves start taking photos to post on their Facebook walls! Moved by his equipoise under conditions of extreme stress, some guards even inquire about the specifics of meditation. One of them befriends him and gifts him an extra “package” — a toothbrush, a toothpaste, a piece of paper and a pen. Pancho then cleans up his cell of all the litter, toilet paper and other waste; on the piece of paper he writes, “Smile. You’ve just been tagged with an anonymous act of kindness!”, and leaves that extra toothpaste and toothbrush next to it. “I wanted to beautify the cell for the next person after me,” he would later say. Jails didn’t have any vegetarian food, so he smilingly fasted — having two oranges in four days. He gifts away his ham sandwiches to other inmates, and connects with them in the spirit of generosity too. In transit, when he has more contact with other prisoners, he educates them about their rights. With the ICE agent who shackles him, he smilingly says, “Sister, your soul is too beautiful to be doing this kind of work.” To which she smiled back and responded, “Thank you.”
Really, there’s not much else one can respond with.
When he is released from jail, lots of media houses are frantically looking for him. Pancho, utterly uninterested in the games of fame, is unreachable. The man doesn’t even have a phone. That weekend, like every weekend, the best way to find him was to meditate at Casa de Paz, or volunteer at Karma Kitchen, or farm at the Free Farm Stand. “Let’s replicate constructive programs,” he would say, while retelling stories of Gandhi.
From anarchists to administrators, people love Pancho — not just because he fiercely stands up for his values but because he is genuinely and constantly moved by love. Whenever you meet him, he pre-emptively warns, “Hello, my family calls me Pancho. I’m from the part of the planet we call Mexico and in Mexico, we like to give hugs,” before enveloping you in his trademark embrace.
Former US Marine Jason Kal recalls, “When we first met, I just casually told Pancho that I liked his t-shirt that said ‘ahimsa’ (meaning nonviolence) on it. The next thing you know, he just takes off his t-shirt and gives it to me. I was totally speechless. I’ve never seen anyone do that.” Today, Jason is Pancho’s housemate at Casa de Paz and a dear friend.
As Pancho often signs off his emails, “If you want to be a rebel, be kind.”
~ Nipun Mehta
Tyler Kellogg calls himself a chronic do-gooder, and what he did last summer is proof. After scraping together $2,000 and retrofitting his car with a sleeping space, the 21-year old college student hit the road. His goal: to bestow random acts of kindness on 100 strangers.
He drove 1,600 miles, from his parents’ house in Adams Center, New York, to the Florida Keys, then back again.
“The first person I helped was a guy installing a boat lift on a lake in Oneida, New York,” Kellogg recalls.
“I was shaking when I asked if he needed a hand.”
What if he thought Kellogg was crazy?
“When he said, ‘Can you help me get this lift into the water?’ I knew everything was going to be fine.”
He helped a cop fix a downed barricade in Washington, D.C., and spread countless cubic yards of mulch in Maryland and North Carolina. And somewhere outside Atlanta, he met a man who was crying because his wife had recently died and he had no one to talk to.
“For three hours we sat on his porch,” Kellogg says.
“When I left, he said, ‘Thank you. I realize now that my life will go on.’”
In 55 days, Kellogg assisted 115 strangers and made an exhilarating realization:
“You don’t have to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist,” he says.
“You just have to ask people, ‘How can I help?’”
~ from the Reader’s Digest June/July 2010 issue
This is their story of friendship, faith and the ultimate sacrifice.
We met the brothers at 5:30 a.m. on July 29th in the waiting room at the University of Colorado Hospital. They were both in good spirits and surrounded by their parents, wives and siblings who were there for support.
By 6:00 a.m., Ryan and Chad were being prepped for surgery.
Chad was overcome with emotion as he told us about the day he learned his brother’s liver was a perfect match.
“It was a very humbling experience,” said Chad. “Ryan called me and said, ‘I’m a match.’ And you feel a lot of things at that point. Relief, gratefulness to God and to Ryan. And after that you wrestle with a lot of guilt, like I really don’t want to bring him through this. But he shut me up pretty fast and said, ‘Well, you would do it for me, wouldn’t you?'”
Chad had PSC, a disease of the liver for which there’s no cure. His symptoms were getting worse — the itching, fatigue and jaundice. He was in the final stages of liver failure, his condition was deteriorating and he needed a liver fast.
A living donor was his only hope, so his brother Ryan stepped in.
“You know, I love Chad. He’s my brother and he’s got a lot of life left to live,” Ryan told us as he was being prepped for the procedure. “I’m healthy and I know I’ll stay healthy. I’ll recover and I want to see him do the things he wants to do, and spend time with his family, and I want to have him around for a long time.”
Little was said as the brothers said goodbye to each in the surgery room. They hugged and smiled, but didn’t speak much.
Ryan’s surgery was first as they quickly whisked him away. Within minutes, the procedure began with a team of doctors who carefully removed 60 percent of Ryan’s healthy liver, while Chad patiently waited and shared his thoughts with us.
“The thing I’ve learned through all this is that God writes the story. It’s not my story to write. Ryan’s the hero and I’m just playing my part. He’s the real hero,” Chad told us.
Once the organ was removed from Ryan, it was carefully rinsed and carried next door to be transplanted into Chad after his diseased liver was removed.
Doctor Igal Kam performed the surgery on Ryan.
“We have two brothers here today and one of them is very sick and probably can’t hold on for too much longer,” Dr. Kam told us. “It’s hard for him with his disease to get to the top of the transplant list. But his brother came around and said he would give him part of his liver. It’s that kind of generosity that’s wonderful to see because he’ll probably save his brother’s life.”
Deaths of living donors are rare — about .5 to 1 percent, but the surgery is still risky. While both livers will regenerate and grow back to their original size, if too much is removed or something goes wrong, it’s the donor whose life is at risk.
“It’s still a very controversial surgery in the United States. There have been a few deaths of donors, healthy people who gave part of their liver and didn’t make it. But I think we’re very careful in selecting our donors and the chances of it happening here are very, very low,” Dr. Kam said with confidence.
In the initial days following the procedure, both men were recovering at different rates. Ryan’s family says one minute Chad was doing better, and then Ryan, and vice versa.
On July 30, Ryan was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit. The next day, on the evening of July 31, he suddenly went into cardiac arrest, lapsed into a coma and was placed on life support.
He died two days later, on Aug. 2.
Ryan Arnold was healthy, active and strong. He was a husband and father of three little boys, ages 1, 4 and 6.
Chad is now recovering at home. He’s tired and weak, but otherwise doing well.
He described to us how he first learned of his brother’s death.
“My dad came to my hospital room and grabbed my feet. He leaned forward and said, ‘I’ve got some bad news.” He was holding back the tears. “Ryan’s gone, but we still serve a good God.’ He couldn’t have said it better,” Chad told us.
Ryan gave Chad the gift of life, a gift which led to his own death. And because of that, Chad refuses to place the focus on himself.
“This is a story about a man who is deeply convicted by his faith and because of that, what he did for me was just sort of a normal thing that he did for people. Ryan is the hero in this,” Chad says.
And while there’s a huge scar on the outside, there’s one on the inside as well. Chad is now committed to living his life the way Ryan lived his: with faith, compassion and humility.
“Ryan gave without hesitation. It’s the ultimate sacrifice, but he’d do it again.”
Ryan Arnold was buried on August 9 in Watertown, South Dakota. He’s survived by his wife Shannon and three young boys, his parents and three siblings.
– Source: http://neogaf.net
For five hours, strangers bought each other meals at a Philly diner
It played like a scene from a holiday movie — a mystery couple, who didn’t leave their names or numbers, walked into a restaurant, finished their meal and then set-off a chain reaction of generosity that lasted for hours.
That’s just what employees at the Aramingo Diner in Port Richmond said a man and a woman did during their breakfast shift last Saturday morning.
“It was magical. I had tears in my eyes because it never happened before. I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Lynn Willard, a waitress.
Willard and other waitresses told NBC Philadelphia that the couple started the chain reaction by paying double: for their own meal and for the tab of another table of diners at the restaurant. There’s no evidence that one group of diners knew the others.
“I could not believe it … and it continued and continued, it was very nice,” said Willard. “They asked us not to say anything until they left, but we said ‘Merry Christmas, that person picked up your tab.’”
For the next five hours, dozens of patrons got into that same holiday spirit and paid the favor forward.
The diner’s manager said not one person was concerned about price of the check — which averaged between $12-$30.
“It was a surprise to all of us, the girls were even taken aback,” said Linda. “Those who took the check also tipped the waitress. So nobody had to do anything other than pass it on and that’s what they did. They just passed it forward.”
It’s a true holiday story that proves how a small gesture of kindness can create some magic.
– Source: nbcphiladelphia.com