America is coarser these days thanks, in part, to the politics of vitriol, greed to make a fast buck and the often self-absorbed bubble of the internet.

But have you noticed an increase in kindness, too? Especially since the coronavirus pandemic upended lives across the world?

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — Dalai Lama

A few days ago, a longtime friend in Florida with a growing lump on his neck from throat cancer put out a plea for help. No job. No health care. In desperate need of radiation, chemotherapy and an expensive test. It’s been, as he wrote on, a dumpster fire of a year.

Brack | File photo

“Without a job and without health insurance, I’ve found that it’s more than a bit difficult to get treated for cancer. The local hospital has a ‘charitable’ arm — which I pursued to exhaustion — but being male, breathing and still young enough to be productive, there was no charity available for me to get treatment.”

At first, he set a goal of $5,000 to pull together enough money for the test. Friends posted it on their social media outlets. Money started flowing. A Charleston man read a post, contacted me, asked a couple of questions and said he was going to donate $3,000, which would put my friend well over his goal. Why contribute to someone he didn’t even know? “God’s been too generous with us and (we’re) happy to share.”

So far, my friend’s campaign has raised more than $7,600, which has lifted a huge burden he’s been carrying. He’s energized and more positive than in awhile. Because of a huge act of kindness from a man he doesn’t even know.

“I can’t begin to tell you what a blessing this has been and how much it will help me get started on treatment,” my friend said.

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” — William Wordsworth

Founded in 2010, GoFundMe has helped more than 70 million donors distribute $5 billion to projects around the world. In recent days, donors have contributed more than $12,000 to an aid campaign for the family of an upstate New York man killed Aug. 31 when a car struck his bike on U.S. Highway 17 south of Charleston. His dog, Ava, was in a trailer being pulled by the bike. She almost died, but got emergency care through the Charleston Animal Society.

“Her jaw is broken in two places,” said the organization’s Kay Hyman. “She has lacerations, wounds that are stapled to help them heal. Her brain was swelling from trauma, but she is alive. Ava is one resilient dog and should make a full recovery, with intensive care and time, from her horrific accident. Emotionally, she obviously misses her dad and watches intently when a bicycle crosses her path.”

Again, help poured in. On Sept. 12, the man’s ashes and Ava are expected to be returned to upstate New York in a private jet offered by a venture capitalist. More kindness.

One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession. — Sophocles

Since the pandemic, lawyers and law students have been giving back across the Lowcountry as people struggle to cope with everything from health care to the possibility of being evicted. 

One example: A landlord quietly worked with a tenant to make sure a single mother with twins could stay in her home, said Alissa Lietzow, executive director of Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services. Another:

“One attorney, a private practice civil attorney for over 25 years, has been dedicating his efforts for the housing court program on a monthly basis during the pandemic,” she said. “He has helped multiple tenants prevent evictions, secure agreed-upon move-out dates and avoid evictions on their records, which can hurt their prospects of finding new housing. 

“The work of pro bono housing attorneys is paramount to avert a homelessness crisis in our community that could escalate COVID cases.”

More kindness. As politics ratchets up in nastiness in the weeks ahead, let’s remember we’re all in this together. Practice random acts of kindness. Pay it forward.

Andy Brack is publisher of Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to:

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