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upworthy

humanity

Samalia Swan/Instagram (used with permission)

A street artist captured a woman's delight at having her picture drawn.

On a planet with nearly 8 billion humans living on it, the uniqueness of every single person feels like a bit of a miracle. And yet here we are, each with a distinct personality and life story made up of our own experiences, perspectives, relationships and purpose.

We encounter countless other people during our lifetimes, some of whom we build bonds with and some of whom are just split-second flashes in our line of vision. And then there are occasional precious moments of connection with a perfect stranger, the mysterious magic that happens when two people share a brief interaction that makes a mark in our memories forever.

This is one of those moments.


Artist Samalia Swan was strolling the Saturday night market on Thailand's Koh Phangan island when she saw a sweet, elderly woman selling banana cakes. She sat down across the way and surreptitiously sketched a picture of her.

After approaching the stand and buying one of her banana cakes, Swan gave the woman the picture she drew. Her reaction is sheer surprise and delight—a true testament to the power of being seen.

Watch:

There's something about watching a face that has lived a long life light up, isn't there? The video has been viewed over 18 million times on Instagram, with nearly 2 million likes and over 15,000 comments. People loved seeing the joy in her face and the way she kissed both the money and the drawing with such tenderness.

"How do I buy all the banana cakes?" asked one person.

"Warning should have been 'onions cutting in progress,'" wrote another.

"I don’t think some people understand how powerful it is to make others feel seen," shared another. "You definitely made her day and she’s going to remember that for a long time."

Someone else wrote, "I love kind humans doing kind human things. It makes my eyes tear up and my heart feel like bursting."

"This is so precious," offered another. "Her smile and loving old eyes. She was so surprised. Elders need a purpose and these banana cakes are her purpose.❤️"

People asked if there was a way to raise funds for the woman so she didn't have to work, but others pointed out that she might actually enjoy selling her cakes at the market once a week. Others said it looks like she could have issues with her eyes that could be solved with a simple surgery. Swan shared that she's going to visit again with the woman and find out more about what needs, if any, she has.

"My mission is to spread LOVE & KINDNESS to this beautiful world we live in," Swan wrote on Instagram, and she does that by using her art to show people their own beauty.

"It all began four years ago when I picked up a pen and sketched a stranger in a café," she shared. "The act of giving away that drawing brought me immense joy – a joy of unconditional giving. Since then, drawing strangers has become my cherished hobby, and I do so with the sole intention of giving.✨"

Even if nothing more comes of her interaction with woman selling banana cakes, this beautiful example of human connection is one that Swan, the woman and the millions who witnessed it will remember and cherish.

You can follow Samalia Swan on Instagram.

Joy

Wholesome exchange between a Black woman a white man is giving people faith in humanity

A woman named Jo'lee Shine expected the worst when a white man approached her overheated vehicle, but his kindness brought her to tears.

@realbillygotti/Instagram

We need more moments like these.


Of course, racism and hatred are very real issues, and ones that we must discuss in order to make progress. But with all the coverage of people behaving badly flooding our awareness through the media and online, it can be easy to write-off humanity entirely. To believe that the world is inherently a divisive, dangerous and ultimately declining place to live. When in reality, not everything is so bleak.

That’s what makes sharing this story so important.

A Black woman named Jo'lee Shine was stuck in her overheated car in front of a stranger's house, waiting for a tow truck to arrive.

When a white man, the homeowner, began approaching her, Jo'lee immediately started recording the interaction. And thank goodness she did, because this was a moment worth immortalizing.


“I'm so sorry, my car ran hot,” she says in the clip, and begins trying to start the car to prove her situation.

And then, in the sweetest southern accent you ever heard, we hear “don’t try to crank it baby.”

When then hear him offer to put water in the car, made sure Jo'lee had coming to pick her up, and then…wait for it…asked if she wanted lunch.

"We’ll be eating lunch shortly. While we wait on [the tow truck] if we get everything set up I’ll come get you and we’ll have dinner,” he says.

This brings Jo’lee to instant tears. “That was so sweet,” she whimpers.

With a chuckle, the man replies, “that’s the way we are.” he then shared how he just had 22 people over at his house the night before for “a family gathering.”

Jo’lee declines the lunch offer, but profusely thanks the kind stranger as she wipes the tears that continue to fall. Just before he goes, the man says that he’ll check back in, joking that the tow truck “might be delayed” and she might change her mind.

In her caption, Jo’lee wrote, “I wasn’t going to post this, but I wanted people to know that they’re still good people in this world.”

Seems like that mission was accomplished. The video, which has gotten over 176,000 likes on Instagram, gave everyone a little dose of hope. Just take a look at some of these lovely comments:

“This is who we are...it sucks that movies have put fear in people to that level. That makes me sad that there's fear and division keeping us all from sharing love that I KNOW is in all of us.”

“The media works to divide us, don't believe their lies. We love all people.. God Bless.”

"I'll come get you when we get dinner on the table?!!" ❤️🩹❤️🩹❤️🩹🔥🔥🔥🔥🙌🙌”

“The way he called you baby without a mean tone in his soul.”

“This renews my faith in humanity. He tried to help her without any thought of race.”

“Just when we think humanity has died, this happens ♥️. Human kindness for the win.”

Indeed, the world has its’ Karens…and even worse characters. But it also has people who invite strangers to dinner, just because it’s a nice thing to do…because it’s the “way they are.” It’s the way a lot of us are, when we let ourselves be.


Around 1 a.m. on April 24, semi-truck drivers in the Oak Park area of Michigan received a distress call from area police: An unidentified man was standing on the edge of a local bridge, apparently ready to jump onto the freeway below.

Those drivers then did something amazing. They raced to the scene to help — and lined up their trucks under the bridge, providing a relatively safe landing space should the man jump.



Fortunately, he didn't.

The impressive line-up wasn't a coincidence — the drivers were prepared for exactly this sort of situation.Sgt. Jason Brockdorff of the Huntington Woods Police Department told The Detroit News that the response was something local police and truck drivers had actually trained for. But what was unusual was the sheer number of drivers who responded to the call.

"That's a practice we use if we have a jumper," Brockdorff said. "We try to do it every time, to lessen the distance someone would travel if they were to jump. Fortunately, that didn't happen."

The incident lasted nearly four hours, into the early morning. However, once the trucks were in place, the police were able to more comfortably negotiate with the unidentified man.

Eventually, the man walked off the bridge on his own and is currently receiving medical help.

In a pair of tweets, the local police department called attention to the incident to remind people in similar situations of the importance of seeking mental health services (emphasis mine):

This photo does show the work troopers and local officers do to serve the public. But also in that photo is a man struggling with the decision to take his own life. Please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911. There are so many people that can help you make the choice to get help and live! It is our hope to never see another photo like this again.

Working together, the police and everyday strangers saved a life.

Ordinary people heeded the call of service to help a fellow person who was struggling. It's a powerful image that's impossible to ignore, and a reminder of humanity at its best.


This article originally appeared on 04.24.18

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying.



All you want to do was walk in, sit down, get out your notebook and (try to) pay attention. But now? Now you've got to talk to a stranger about moving their stuff and there goes your day, already bogged down with petty annoyances.

Sound familiar? It should.

We've all got so much to do these days that interacting with people we see every day — not our friends, but our classmates, fellow commuters, co-workers, the people in line for coffee with us every day — can feel like a burden.

So, when these people do something we perceive as annoying, like putting their stuff on our desks, we don't have the time or the energy to assume their intentions or think about the lives they're leading.

But if we stepped out of ourselves for a second, we might just realize that we're all much more connected than we think, that our preconceived notions of others are usually just that — preconceived. And, often, inaccurate.

That's why this Twitter story about a guy who learned an important life lesson from a classmate he was frustrated with is going viral.

It's the perfect example of that "don't judge a book by its cover" adage we should have all learned in preschool but sometimes forget. And it starts the exact same way as this post — with a college student groaning on the inside as he sees someone's stuff on his desk.





If not for this one day running late, McFall may have never realized what his classmate was trying to do. And he may have continued to think of him as annoying, maybe telling others about "the weird guy who was always trying to take up my space"... when all the guy was really trying to do was be kind.

We all misinterpret the actions of others sometimes. It's easy to do that!

But if there's one thing this story reminds us, it's that it's important to stop and remember that while you're living your life, other people are living theirs, so assuming best intentions can do us a great favor.

That's why we should step outside of our bubbles and engage with the world on a regular basis.

You could make a new friend. You might brighten someone's day.

But most importantly, getting out of your own head, checking your own biases, and giving others the benefit of the doubt will make you a more compassionate person.

You don't have to engage with everyone you meet, but the next time someone smiles and offers you a high-five?

Maybe just take them up on it.


This article was originally published on April 16, 2018.