The kindness of strangers . . . It isn't earned. It isn't a right. It cannot happen in the same way in the same place twice. It can change your life. Even if we sometimes can't remember it clearly in times of conflict or unmet need, we have all experienced the kindness of strangers, either in the giving or receiving, most often in both. It makes a difference, it resets us somehow, so that the give and take of circumstance, our own vulnerabilities and fears, are less consuming, world-defining. It presumes the simplest and most radical kind of similarity: shared humanity and good faith. It isn't the least naive. It stands up to scrutiny, indeed expands, flowers with the attention we give it, even when the act is small, the consequences not what we intended.
In this collection, forty-eight contemporary authors explore through stories, memoir, and poetry how the kindness of strangers has informed and transformed their lives. They describe how we are often surprised into kindness; discover unexpected abilities and compatibilities, new identities, and inner freedom through it; how we retreat from it; act on it at times grudgingly; are saved by it in times of illness; and through its practice find ourselves, often without noticing, developing larger and more sustaining communities and an unanticipated sense of belonging.
CONTRIBUTORS Susan Austin ♦ Rachel Squires Bloom ♦ Katie Glauber Bush ♦ William Cass ♦ Laura Chaignon ♦ Teetle Clawson ♦ Susan Clayton-Goldner ♦ Shireen Day ♦ Norita Dittberner-Jax ♦ Alethea Eason ♦ Rupert Fike ♦ Meia Geddes ♦ Frank Haberle ♦ Patrick Cabello Hansel ♦ Stephanie Hart ♦ Margaret Hasse ♦ Paul Hostovsky ♦ Lowell Jaeger ♦ Pauline Kaldas ♦ Murali Kamma ♦ Jennifer Schomburg Kanke ♦ John King ♦ Laurie Klein ♦ Norman Klein ♦ Steve Koppman ♦ Rick Krizman ♦ Robert J. Kus ♦ Linda Maxwell ♦ Jessica Naab ♦ Jason A. Ney ♦ Marianne Peel ♦ Dorothy Oliver Pirovano ♦ MK Punky ♦ Wilderness Sarchild ♦ George J. Searles ♦ Patti See ♦ Pegi Deitz Shea ♦ Karen Skolfield ♦ Darcy Smith ♦ Ken Staley ♦ Rebecca Taksel ♦ Jennifer Thornburg ♦ John Timm ♦ Johnny Townsend ♦ Gina Valdés, ♦ Anusha VR ♦ Joel Wachman ♦ Jana Zvibleman