There was a letter to the editor in our paper recently with a gently chiding title about dignity and decency.
In it, the author tells her tale of her alleged encounter with a homeless man in one of our local thrift store, which she chose not to name. The clerk, she reports, THREW the elderly, frail old man's change at him while other customers laughed mockingly when his bags ripped, nearly causing him to drop his Christmas treasures.
She alone rose to his rescue, helping place his new shoes on his feet, offering him a ride to wherever he needed, although she says she KNEW where, as she had seen him in her work with the homeless.
A person at the store mocked her for allowing him in her car, but she was undeterred, saving him.
Her description of his humble gratitude was heartbreaking, her pleas for the community to take notice of these people and be kind were clear.
When a local radio personality dared to opine on the truthiness of the account, some people were horrified. Some seemed to stumble over each other, calling him names to prove how kind they are.
What started as a little anecdote on her own FB page about her generosity, which she SWEARS wasn't about her, just that poor little old man, took on a life of its own today. There's an actual word for a story that highlights a person's own good deeds in a modest, self-effacing way... a Humble Brag and even a "Facebrag".
Whether it was one thing or another isn't the real point, I guess.
It's about dignity and decency.
Where was HIS dignity in this scenario?
Did he agree to have his misfortune used as a modern-day parable to nudge the rest of us to behave ourselves?
Did he sign up to have his frailties described in detail, to hear how her eyes welled up with sadness and how his struggle to walk was so poignant contrasted with his offer to carry her heavy purchases for her?
Does it matter that the author left out names, places and details when HE would know immediately if he read the paper?
I even have to be careful here, since what I find important to share might be embarrassing to my son beyond the FUN kind of embarrassing. ;)
I have two distinct memories from when I was very young, both acts of giving to our family.
One was a cold winter evening when a basket of Christmas goodies found its way to our porch. Mom came lugging it in, and it felt a bit like magic. We knew it was someone from the church, but the only clue to the identity of the giver was a car door and a giggle in the dark.
The second was when I was older, after Dad died.
There was a lady in Mother's church who liked to give her checks... but presented them in front of the congregation with a flourish.
I'm betting the gigglers had a lot more fun in the end.
They let the gift be about the recipient.