It’s amazing how one simple act of kindness can cause reverberations that are felt all over.
Musician Adam Kightlinger learned about the ripple effect that kindness can have on a sunny September day in San Diego, California. The singer routinely takes his guitar to crowded public spaces in order to entertain, keep his skills sharp, and earn a little bit of cash. This particular day he headed over to the USS Midway Museum, a docked battle ship open for tourism.
“Some things really can change your life… I am blown away by what happened just now,” Adam wrote on Facebook after he got home that day.
Today I decided to go play downtown San Diego by the USS Midway Museum. I arrived around 11:30 am and started my jam session. The music was flowing, my voice was strong and the sunshine came out quickly. The crowds of people who walked by me were giving today, throwing in a fair amount of cash and dollar bills as I played. I also noticed off to the right of where I was standing there were 3 men sleeping on the lawn and looked like they were homeless and or in need of help.
The homeless men all sat up and listened to Adam’s playing, giving him thumbs ups and smiling at him every time he’d finish one of his songs. After a few hours, one of the men, Michael Briggs, approached Adam and shyly asked him for a favor. He asked if he could borrow just one dollar from Adam’s guitar case so that he could get himself an egg sandwich. Adam glanced at his earnings for the day and saw he’d taken in about $65.
“You can take all of it if you’d like,” Adam told him. The singer was blown away when Michael replied, “Wait, really? Why?”
The man then started to cry.
“Because you are hungry and in a few hours you are going to be hungry again, so you’ll need some extra cash to get a big meal,” Adam replied.
Michael turned around and placed his hands over his face as he cried, my heart started to well up as I realized this man maybe eats once a day and has been struggling for many years now. Michael walked over to my guitar case and he took 1 single dollar, not all of it, just ONE DOLLAR.
But instead of taking his dollar and going away, Michael told Adam, “I know folks who need this more than me, so because you’re a good man and wanted to help me, it’s only right I do what you did and help someone else.”
He then went to grab his friend Stanley, who asked for money for his own egg sandwich. Adam replied in the same manner, telling the man to take all of the cash, but again he refused. Stanley was also moved to tears, asking why Adam would give so generously to someone he doesn’t even know.
“I am going to treat you the same as I treated Michael, I don’t need to know you to care about you, plus you all have been very supportive of my music the last hour or so showing me some love,” Adam replied.
After Stanley took just three dollars from the case, he asked if it would be okay to distribute the rest of the money among the other homeless people nearby. That’s when Stanley dropped the real bombshell: all of these homeless men are veterans.
Turns out every single man and woman I met today in that group (which grew to 10 people by the time my conversation was done with them) we’re all Navy, Marine, Army, and Air Force veterans and served for 10 to 25 years each… one of which was a captain in the Army and had been shot multiple times in the back (he showed me his scars and photos of him in the military) He saved multiple lives during his tours.
Adam was struck by their words and was devastated to learn that these vets had fallen on hard times. Nearby, another man named Jeremy had been listening, and he too was moved to tears by the chain reaction of goodness he’d just seen.
“Do you see what you did, how one single act of kindness has blown up into a wave of giving?” Jeremy asked. He then handed Adam $30 and told him, “You deserve to be taken care of as well.”
Adam was left with a wonderful feeling in his heart, knowing he’d not just helped some hungry veterans find their next meal, but he’d also inspired those around him to do what they can to brighten their worlds with kindness, too. His story is one of gratitude, respect, and ultimately, love.
If you agree, please share this story to start that goodness chain reaction.