The March 22, 2016, episode “Reasonable Doubts” of CBS’s hit TV drama series NCIS had a rather mundane main plot and a very compelling subplot featuring “Senior, ” the father of character Anthony DiNozzo. Senior’s act of kindness toward a homeless woman — an ill Army vet — seemed particularly moving in a world reeling from terror attacks in Brussels and elsewhere.
After watching this episode I started to think about situational awareness and the small acts that we can do to make this world seem not quite as terrible.
Here is one small example that many of us can do almost every day:
When we open a door and walk through it, are we aware of a person right behind us who is also about to go through the same door? If so, do we take the extra second to hold the door open for that person or do we let the door in effect slam in that person’s face?
I know the above may seem trivial, yet it is an important expression of recognizing the existence of and importance of other people.
Teaching ourselves to have situational awareness for good deeds can also be good training for observing things out of place — things that might indicate an imminent terror attack. This is how all of us can help assume responsibility for the safety of ourselves and others.
Recently I saw an apparently abandoned backpack on the floor of a neighborhood Starbucks and had this backpack brought to the attention of a barista. Fortunately the barista knew which frequent patron (who had left the store) went with the backpack.
I admit I hesitated before calling attention to the abandoned backpack. But then I considered that the risk of not doing so outweighed any possible embarrassment on my part.
And if fiction encourages us to do good deeds for others, here is an example of what we can do:
Fay Wolf’s newly released book “New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else)” has a marvelous section on places to donate various category items. For example, I had always wondered if bras could be donated. Lo and behold, Wolf includes freethegirls.org in her book.
According to the Free The Girls website, it is a “501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides job opportunities for survivors of sex trafficking in developing countries.” This mission is very appropriate for the March 21, 2016, episode “Rules in Defiance” of new NBC TV drama series BLINDSPOT, which dealt with sex trafficking.
As ordinary citizens we may not be able to take down a sex trafficking ring as in BLINDSPOT or get needed medical help for a homeless Army vet as in NCIS, yet we can be alert to opportunities all around us in daily life for small acts of kindness.
So when, for example, you see a person in a wheelchair or a person pushing a stroller approaching a closed door, take a moment to open the door for that person.
And if you are a fiction writer, remember that depicting small acts of kindness in your fiction can impact the real-world actions of your readers.
© 2016 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. Phyllis is available by skype for book group discussions and may be reached at email@example.com
Her Kindle fiction ebooks may be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller — and her Kindle nonfiction ebooks may also be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller