Volunteer Work Camp 2011 - 4

Senseless, brutal acts of kindness.

No Internet service yesterday at Tower Hill.  Here's the first of today's posts.

Thursday was a day off at Work Camp.  But our theme continued.  On this day, we relaxed.  We ate lunch out at Redamak's in New Buffalo, spent the afternoon at the beach, climbed Warren Dunes' Mount Baldy (and jumped off the steeper slope on the back side) and visited the clay pits of the stream that empties into the Lake.

We also found ways to do senseless, brutal acts of kindness. 

It's not customary to see senseless and brutal attached to acts of kindness.  We talked about how the line in the "Small Rebellions" song first lets us notice that we can be kind instead of cruel.  We also talked about how senseless, brutal acts of kindness go beyond simple kindness.  They may be the kind of kind things you do that go beyond the norm.  They're the things that make you go outside your comfort zone and beyond what you would do easily.  We invited everyone to think about a time when they'd performed a senseless, brutal act of kindness.

Renee (one of the high school work campers) wrote this.

My friends and I are sitting and laughing, sharing nachos and half-eaten desserts.  Life is good.  We are five friends enjoying a break from schoolwork to eat lunch and tell stories.  Although we don’t like to be mean, the table of special ed. Students next to ours is a bother to our average teenage lives.  The students at the table there drool or walk funny or laugh too loud.  We like to pretend that they don’t exist to ignore the guilt we feel for being so “normal.”
There is a girl I know, Sara, that sits at this particular table.  Sara is short, and walks with a large limp.  She carries her medical equipment with her everywhere.  She is hard to look at because her features are distorted and her mouth hangs ajar with drool falling down her chin. 
Poor Sara, even the students at the neighboring table pretend she doesn’t exist.  The teachers are impatient with her because she only shouts noises and she can’t see unless she angles her head right.
On this day, Sara is limping along, pulling her supplies with her backpack strapped on as well.  Sara is walking past our table using our chairs for support to walk.  We are surprised to see her walking past us, because her table is on the other side.  We whisper and move away from her helpless grasps. 
I am wondering where she is going and why she doesn’t have a teacher with her.  At last I realize that she is headed towards the stacks of extra chairs.  I notice her table hasn’t bothered to offer her one.
I hesitate a moment, then, without thinking, jump up and walk towards Sara.  I ask her, “Sara, do you need a chair?  Do you want me to help?”  She nods viciously.  I grab a chair and walk with her back to the table.  “There you go, Sara,” I say. Sara does the sign language motion for ‘thank you.’  I say “You’re welcome, Sara,” and a warm feeling spreads through me.  The small act made me feel like a better person.
Just then, I remembered I was in a crowded cafeteria.  As I turned to walk back to my table, I noticed everyone was staring at me.  High School students don’t normally help people who are different. They whisper, laugh, and avoid staring at the “special ed students.”
All the staring began to burn through my skin. I could feel my face becoming cherry red.  I sat down as quickly as I could and wished I could hide.
When I looked around at my friends, they looked shocked.  I asked, embarrassed, “What?” (Even though I knew why they had their mouths wide open, or so I thought.) Instead of the bashing I was bracing myself for my best friend Cathy told me I inspired her and my other friends echoed her with nice things.
I felt brave and accomplished.  The act was small and Sara probably could have managed by herself, but I felt great and knew I had done the right thing.
At the time it felt painfully embarrassing to have done something so different, but now I realize it was probably very special for Sara and it was kindness that my friends admired me for.

One more work day left.

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