Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"All you need is love"

Most of my writings are depressing. I found this uplifting, and hope you do too. Please note that "we" includes me. I am not lecturing, but rather sharing.

On the south side of the entrance to the Sydney Harbor is The Gap Park with rocky cliffs. There is one location that has been a notorious suicide spot since the 1800's. In those last desperate moments before jumping many people have had a stranger walk up behind them, and with a smile ask "Why don't you come and have a cup of tea?" That stranger in Don Ritchie.

Richie has lived across the street from the cliff for almost 50 years. He is 84 years old, 6'2" tall, with blue eyes and a raspy voice. He has been described as exuding calm. The official tally of people who have accepted his invitation is 150 people. Unofficially the count is closer to 400 people.
Richie can not stop everyone, and some jump. These people do not haunt Richie; he did what he could. Moya, Richie's wife said "I think, 'isn't it wonderful that we live here and we can help people?'".

The Golden Gate Bridge is another notorious suicide spot. 29 people have jumped and lived. One of those survivors is John Kevin Hines. At 19 he paced the bridge weeping, and hoping someone would ask him what was wrong. After 40 minutes someone approached and asked him to take her picture. Moments later he jumped. Mr. Hines says that if one person had shown concern he probably would not have jumped.

How much effort is it to smile at a stranger? We never know, it just might improve someone's day. Are we really so tied up in ourselves that we can't show compassion for a stranger? It might cost us minutes of the rest of our life, but we never know, it just might add years to someone else's.

Smile. Mr. Hines is.

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