the kindness of strangers

I think it’s easier to be kind to people you don’t know than people to whom you’re related. Probably because strangers would be more apt to appreciate and not continually expect…expect…expect
What I mean to say, specifically, is that I probably would not have such frequent moments of annoyance if I were taking care of someone I didn’t know rather than my mother.
A cousin of mine, who — with help from his wife — took care of his mother until she died just short of her 100th birthday, reminded me that our mothers and grandmothers come from the “old country” expectation that children “owe” their parents their lives and so they have to take care of them in their old age.
I think it’s the EXPECTATION that bothers me more than anything.
A friend of mine from college, who, in these her retired years was volunteering at a senior center to help drive the elderly to doctor’s appointments, etc, told me of her disturbing experience being kind to one stranger. My friend began driving the same old woman to various doctors’ appointments over a short period of time. The old woman, rather than being gracious and grateful, began expecting that my friend would do her grocery shopping, run errands, etc. And she got angry when my friend explained that she couldn’t give up that much of her time and energy, and the agreement was that she would simply be available to drive.
Sometimes being kind to strangers only leads to ungraciously great expectations. Being kind to family sometimes gets you the same thing.
Of course, there’s all of the kindness from strangers to strangers during the recent hurricanes.
Speaking of Katrina, I call your attention to an address given by Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) last month on the House floor, in which she discussed “Katrina, the State of Black America, the State of Hispanic America, poverty in America, and the Katrina timelines being developed that will keep us from falling victim to the White House spin.”
The point I really want to make is that she used the word “impeachment” on the House floor but, she said, it was not reflected in the official transcript of her September 8 description of “high crimes and misdemeanors visited on the American people.” In a speech entitled Tremendous Challenges that Face our Country, (see link above) McKinney recounted the incompetence of the Bush Administration in addressing the needs of hurricane Katrina victims and the policies of Republican elites responsible for rampant poverty and an increased racial divide. Questioning everything from the lack of action on Katrina to rewarding the rich, the congresswoman later promised to use the word repeatedly on the House Floor until she sees it reflected in the Congressional Record.
Go McKinney!!

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