Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

When I wrote about Kyle, two postings back, it was prompted by a few different things.

Yes, a pal and I were discussing him because one of Kyle’s friends recently passed away.

But there were other reasons that prompted my writing. Soon realized it would result in more than one blog posting.

Here is one of them.

I was reading an article that disturbed me. It was the story of a decorated veteran, like Kyle, who also brought back something from Vietnam.

This hero’s name was Andrew. He came from a Southern military family. His father and brothers served our country. Andrew volunteered for Vietnam.

His position was “Forward Observer.”

The following is a quote from a guy who served with him.

“During the period when Lieutenant Brannan served, the Forward Observer had the shortest life expectancy of any category of soldier in Vietnam.”

Can you imagine what horrors he witnessed? What horrors he might have inflicted?

All accounts show that Lieutenant Brannan returned from Vietnam a changed person. He had experienced warfare. Like Kyle he had been exposed to Agent Orange. Family loss and weakening mental health only added to the trouble that was brewing ahead of him.

It just sounds like he couldn’t get it together after the war. He isolated himself. Couldn’t finish school. Wasn’t successful with his marriage. Was eventually put on meds. Lived in a plywood shack he constructed. Spent lot of time trekking alone in woods.

He was off his medication for a few days when he was pulled over by a young police officer for a traffic violation in 1998.

The end result is that Andrew Brannan killed a Sheriff’s Deputy. There is a video of the actual confrontation and crime. No disputing the video.

The video shows a man (who did not know he was being filmed) exhibiting erratic behavior. Dancing around weirdly. Then he grabs a rifle from his truck. If you notice his stance and movements toward the policeman’s car it would put you in mind of a soldier during the middle of a war scene.

No disputing the man wasn’t right in the head.

This veteran murdered an innocent, young man that day.

A heart-breaking tragedy for the family of the deputy. And so many others.

On January 15, 2015,  Andrew Brannan was executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia.

His lawyers tried to get his sentence commuted to life without parole. But they lost their appeals. So Lieutenant Brannan, decorated veteran with severe PTSD, ceased to exist.

Just feels kind of rotten to kill someone who served our country by killing for us. So much wrong with that sentence. No pun intended.

In a prepared statement given to his lawyers, he said: ‘I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades, and pray that the same thing does not happen to any of them.’

In his official last statement, moments before the injection was administered, Brannan said: ‘I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle’s parents and his wife and his two children.’ 

I was discussing the death penalty with my friend, Jenny, on a recent visit to Malaysia.  There are many viewpoints on this very hot topic. We touched upon a few.

There is this one. How about we don’t kill anyone at all?

The guilty could suffer every day. Just like the surviving victims of their crimes. Or become remorseful. Or get help if they are mentally ill.

One “newly available” cell will not make a difference in America’s already over-crowded and over-burdened prisons. The death penalty does not deter.

Evil exists. I have no doubt about that. But not all criminals are evil. That’s another blog posting.

No one is above the law. Whether you served your country or not. Everyone needs to be accountable in a courtroom in they committed a crime.

The punishment, however, is the tricky thing. Especially for the U.S. because we actually have States that still practice the death penalty.

Side note: Along with more than fifty countries in the world. If you look at that guest list you’d reconsider going to the party. Not exactly the finest bedfellows.

So can a person who is or was mentally ill be executed?

Sure.

Usually not mentally retarded folks. But history will show more than a few, with IQs less than 70, got the chair or injection. More than a few.

Mentally ill? Jury is still out on that one.

Is everyone who commits an act of murder mentally ill? Even if it’s temporary?

I do not believe that the late Lieutenant Brannan, Bronze Star recipient, was evil. He was just very ill.

Andrew Brannan was a fresh-faced young man from the South who proudly served his country. He came from a family who all served their country. He was one of the “lucky ones” who came back.

But he brought something back from those jungles and it was called mental illness. In the form of PTSD.

Honestly? I think we killed him twice.

His lawyers might have failed him by not getting the “life without parole” sentence but it sure is tough for folks not to be emotionally moved by a young widow with small children. Especially when it’s the family of a police officer.

But who is really responsible and could this all have been avoided?

We (our nation) are responsible and yes it could have been avoided. If we never sent our boys off to war. If we never exposed them to chemicals and atrocities that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

But that horse is already out of the barn.

Nothing to be done for Kyle or Andrew. Too late.

What can be done for the many others who are still out there suffering?

Maybe every time we say “Thank you for your service” to a veteran it’s not just a rote “see how patriotic I am” reaction. Instead of that gratefulness recusing any work, charitable or not, on our part why not explore how we can actually support them. What if every “thank you” prompted a knee-jerk act of kindness of compassion? Being an advocate for their needs. Donating time or resources. Reflect on those suffering. Before posting passive-aggressive memes “Helping homeless U.S. Veterans before refugees” without doing anything except moving digits on a keyboard maybe take the time to actually help homeless U.S. Veterans.

So many opportunities to help so many.

In memory of the Kyles and Andrews who sacrificed their minds and their bodies.

For us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I read an article that was just terrible. I know. I know. So many articles out there are terrible.

This one was about a young lad who was in a Welsh medical school.

Seems he had a fling with a young woman. Also a student. That has been known to happen. So far. So normal.

He then chose to share this information with his rugby buddies in a private on-line group.

That’s where it started to go bad.

His “pals” decided to share his postings with hundreds of others on social media. And the young lady became aware.

Who knows how she reacted.

The fellow then becomes worried that his words could even cause expulsion from the school.

He hanged himself.

I don’t know all the details. The newspaper gives you bits and pieces.

But this is how I imagine it all.

Girl is absolutely mortified. The sheer embarrassment of it all.

Boy is now mortified that this information was shared. Maybe feels shame and guilt once he knows the girl is aware of what he shared.

Feels hopeless. Can’t imagine that this will ever fade. Starts to think that even his future is doomed if the school expels him.

This could have played out in a few different ways.

The young woman might have been the one unable to handle the situation.

Or there could have been apologies on behalf of the boy. Maybe a suspension.

Life could go on. Human beings make mistakes all the time.

But there is no going back in this particular case.

Just devastated people left behind. Grieving parents.

So many lessons to be learned.

We need to be kind. Especially on social media.

We need to be better at using social media responsibly. Think about the consequences of our words and actions.

It wouldn’t ever hurt to use that quote we have all heard. Before speaking (or writing) ask yourself these three questions. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?

There is a “gofundme” page as a result of this death and it states that the money will be used for projects and forums aimed to avoid a reoccurrence of a similar tragedy.

I certainly hope that those projects and forums will be successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We just moved into a new home in New England. Still dividing our time between India and the U.S. but wanted a place here to hang our hats.

Loving it. Even though it’s the middle of winter.

Our next door neighbor hosted a dinner party for us last Saturday. They invited three other couples. So a total of ten.

It was so nice. We never would have met these people during this wintery season. Most people are hunkering down indoors.

Now we know a bunch of nice folks.

One of the neighbors told me that when she moved here in October another one of the neighbors also hosted a dinner party to welcome them.

How very thoughtful. How very kind.

I thought to myself, “This is fabulous. I will do this for the next person who moves into the neighborhood!”

Kindness begets kindness.

We sometimes forget the rippling effects of kindness.

Have a great day and go create some ripples.

I am on my way to my new neighbor’s. She’s hosting a ladies’ coffee for me.

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Some weeks ago, my daughter and I, visited a local restaurant that we enjoy. It is run by a Palestinian refugee family that I know.

They are super sweet. Always big, welcoming smiles. The young fellow, M., working the shawarma stand won’t even take a tip from me.

I ask about his family. There are a bunch of them from one big family that sought refuge in Malaysia a few years ago.

They are Palestinians who lived in the Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, Syria. Yarmouk was established in 1957 for Palestinians who fled the Arab-Israeli War. It is now more like a neighborhood and it doesn’t have tents but apartments. The last few years it has turned into a hell hole due to the Syrian conflict. Many, many people left Yarmouk to escape hunger, disease, wicked fighting and death. It’s brutal.

So, some of these family members were displaced twice in their lifetime. Can you imagine?

And they keep plugging along, working away and trying to make it.

He asked if I knew that R.’s father died a month ago. R. is his eighteen year old first cousin.

I didn’t know. My eyes filled up. I felt terrible for them. The Dad’s heart gave out at 47 years of age. I asked how his aunt was doing. He said she is in her mourning period. But doing ok.

Gosh, to be refugees (for a second time) in a strange country. And then this. To lose one of the anchors of the family.

The next evening, I was downtown with my family and who do we run into on the street? R. After not seeing him for months.

He’s working in an Arabic restaurant. We extended our condolences and we chatted for a bit.

Last Sunday, my daughter and I took him out for a drive and then dinner. It was his first day off in fifteen days.

He is a pleasant young man. Would like to return to school but that won’t happen at the moment. He would like to leave Malaysia but that won’t happen at the moment.

I asked him about his boss. Especially since he is working so many days in a row.

Was he good to him? Refugees/illegals are always being exploited.

He told me that the owner of the restaurant was a Moroccan man who was very nice to him. R.’s father had also worked for him. Apparently the boss loved R.’s Dad. His father was a hard worker and would go back and forth between the two restaurants to help out during the busy times.

R. said that he gets his weekly pay but the owner is also still giving him his father’s wages.

Ok, my eyes were filling up again.

I just thought it was one of the kindest things I had heard in awhile.

Have a great weekend. And I hope a kindness, not a hurt, will make your eyes fill up.

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A neighbor of mine discovered that she had breast cancer shortly after moving here to Kuala Lumpur. In the midst of an international move. But she has done well and weathered this unexpected life challenge.

About three weeks ago, she attended a yoga class at a nearby club. She thought she was following directions well until there was a “press down” position. She couldn’t do it because her breast hurt. The site of the incision.

The instructor exclaimed loudly, “You are in the WRONG class. Your level is not good.”

She immediately felt ashamed and told me that she didn’t think she would go back to that class.

I was very upset. Totally bothered me. I told her that the shame was not hers. It was the instructor’s.

Just think how one bad experience can stop us in our tracks.

I recently met a very nice woman at my daughter’s school. She is a yoga instructor. I told her about this and she was also flabbergasted.

She said, “That’s not right. Tell her to come to my class. Yoga would be so good for her. There are even special classes for women that have had breast cancer.”

Long story short. My neighbor found a different class at her club. Seems to be working for her. I am so glad she tried again. That takes guts.

And then I started thinking about possibly taking up yoga. Not because of her terrible experience. That would have had me running for the hills never uttering another word that began with the letter Y.

It was because of the kindness that this other woman demonstrated. She didn’t want one bad experience to ruin something that would be very healthy and beneficial for this woman. Someone she never met.

Kindness rules. Always.

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My cousin, Elizabeth, asked that I keep the stories coming. So, in honor of my heritage, there will be an Irish theme until St. Patrick’s Day.

I was in New York City some years ago for the wedding of my husband’s co-worker. It was a fabulous weekend.

The wedding Mass was great. With a bagpiper on the front steps of the church as a grand finale.

The church was in the city but the reception was scheduled a few hours later on Long Island. My husband hired the driver that he had used previously on business trips to the city. He said, “You’ll love him. He looks like your brother, Patrick. He’s an Irish fella with a great personality.”

He could have just left it at Irish fella and I would have filled in the blank “with a great personality!”

Note: “Irish fella” in this posting refers to Irish American.

So, I met John, and I did love him right away. The one thing about people who grow up with a similar background is that they “get” each other.

He regaled us with stories. And he would occasionally look in the rear view mirror at me and say, “You know what I’m saying, right, Mary?”

I would say, “Yep, I do.”

He’d start, “I just can’t wait for tomorrow……”

And I finished for him, “Because I get better looking every day!”

Anyway, John, won a battle with childhood cancer but lost his leg. He was telling us about Ted Kennedy visiting him in the hospital. Ted also had a son who lost his leg to cancer. But took the time out to visit this kid. No fanfare. No publicity. Just visiting a sick boy because he knew what it was like to have a child in the same scary, life changing situation. John will never forget that day or Ted’s kindness.

My heart just warmed hearing that Ted walked into John’s room that day.

I love hearing about compassionate acts. Especially when no one’s looking. It is so very powerful.

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Here’s a touching story. All true, of course, because Mary is not writing fiction at the moment.

We always hear all the horrible stories. So much bad press. But there’s so much goodness. I will always believe that there is more good than bad. How could we exist if that were not the case?

There was a middle school social a few months back. Some dancing, snacks, and other activities.

A thirteen year old boy approaches a nice young lady and asks her to dance. She eagerly accepts but then he says, “Oh no, that’s right, you’re too fat and ugly.” Or something despicable like that.

Anyway, a bunch of other thirteen year old boys lit into this kid. They didn’t physically hurt him but by the time they were through with him he was whimpering. They let him know that it was unacceptable. 

And then these same boys, about five of them, did something really kind. They all asked the young lady to dance. She was most likely the envy of every girl in the gym that night since these fellas were quite popular among their peers.

I heard about it from another parent. Because Annie tells me nothing!

So I asked Annie about it. She told me that her respect for each of the boys soared. She asked, “What do you think?”

I replied, “I feel exactly the same. It makes me happy to hear something like that. I would also say that it is a pretty strong indicator of what type of men these boys will become.”

We constantly hear about how cruel young people can be-whether bullying a classmate or a bus monitor. But we always need to remember how many really wonderful kids are out there. They are so incredibly awesome.

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