Killing the Problem with Kindness


I still have been helping out the local community, but mostly in another capacity. Rather than providing help passively, I have been trying to harness people’s innate potential and motivating them to take action as I believe that is more effective and longer-lasting. There is an aphorism that states, “Give me a fish and I will eat today; teach me how to fish and I will eat forever.” A long-term goal of my helping is not to supply a quick fix, but to help the person, even when I am no longer in the picture. Sometimes help is needed to solve emergent problems, such as hunger and coldness, but when people can resolve – or at least work toward resolving – their own difficulties, they gain the confidence and the ability to deal with future issues. Recent news reported that two years after Mayor Robertson’s response plan failed to realize, homelessness and unemployment have now soared to new heights. In Vancouver, homelessness and poverty will always be a social problem if we all take a passive stance – onlookers by ignoring, helpers by providing immediate relief, and receivers by receiving help – but by taking an active approach we can definitely improve the current condition.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a Filipino(?) woman who came to me asking for help because she had been bilked by her dentist for unnecessary surgeries, procedures, and products. She was not homeless, but financially strapped because of the needless expenses. I noticed that, in between her endless complaints and cries for help, she wanted to file for legal aid to recover her money and to warn others about the unethical practice of her dentist. Most importantly, I observed that she wanted to stop herself from succumbing to his demands, and encouraged her to do so. I provided her with the resources to seek help independently and asked her to check back after she had done so.

On a personal level, I find that my active stance/approach has also been effective. Over the last few months, I had overcome two harsh battles – one pertaining to my health and another pertaining to my living situation. After recovering from a month-long illness partly attributed to my unique physical conditions, I discovered that my landlord had been engaging in highly illegal activities and trying to exploit my vulnerability as a little student. At several points of our confrontation, he threatened me. It was awfully scary, but I refused to submit to his threats and simply responded to all of his verbal abuses with dignity and composure, never matching his ill tones and personal attacks. As well, I documented all of his illegal behaviors and made sure I have complied with all the law and legal policies. At the height of our conflict, he screamed that he would “make [me] suffer”, but I still did not yield. Instead, I told him calmly that despite what he had just said, I would not be like him and take revenge, and was sincere in only wanting peace, promising to take care of the suite as if it were my own (which I always had). The next day, he relented. Then, for the first time in two years, he used “please” and requested something very reasonable by using “I’d appreciate if”. I knew right then and there that my behavior and my treatment have affected him. In essence, I guess I “killed him with my kindness” ^O^ This was more encouraging to me than winning another hearing, and confirmed to me yet again that with patience, kindness, and faith, people can change~ Now, if only this can be extended more broadly to address the homelessness in Vancouver…

#homelessness #vancouver #kindness #compassion #ethics #law #society #socialproblem #communityhelping #volunteerism #humanitarianism




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