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The Power of Gratuitous Kindness

• http://www.thedailybell.com, By Wendy McElroy

It was an act of pure compassion that did not seek even the reward of recognition. It is no exaggeration to say that I have 'paid forward' the stranger's kindness a hundred times in the intervening years. Yet I am still in debt. I was 16 years old. My family had been falling apart since the sudden death of my father years before. One of the reasons I am a strong advocate of family structure is because I experienced its warm security as a child and its devastating absence as a teenager. Almost overnight, my mother turned into a rage-filled, terrified woman whom I did not recognize. My older brother and only sibling simply disappeared; at least, that's how I remember it. He was old enough to drive and he began to live in a serial manner at the homes of various friends in preference to his own. Shortly, thereafter, he went to university. A steady, growing conflict with my mother erupted in violence over the holiday season. Without burdening the account with detail, I will simply say it became safer for me to sleep on the streets than in my own bed.


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