My old guru once taught that without a sense of friendliness and caring there is no sense of community. This is true from interpersonal relationships to international relationships and every relationship in between. I like to pause my life to ponder this observation.
If we not only think of friendliness and caring on an intellectual level, but sincerely practice it, we become the best versions of ourselves. I like to contemplate about the lives of people who live their lives in friendly, caring ways. There are perhaps one or two who come to mind who are the epitome of friendliness and caring.
One of them is Carlos, who spent a year with our family as a foreign exchange student from Mexico City. He bent over backwards in his efforts to integrate into our family, the school, and the community. He loved to talk about friendship and service to humanity. In fact those have always been his favorite topics.
After he parted from our family, we kept in touch with Carlos. We weren’t surprised when he was accepted into medical school, then worked hard to become a physician. Through the decades, he has continued with a successful practice in Mexico City and has no immediate plans to retire. Carlos says he plans to remain involved in his neighborhood after retirement because there are so many people he has befriended.
That’s just the way he is. He cares about the little details in the world, about the environment, about the animals, about people, and about the quality of life. He has always been mature about these things. Whenever I think of Carlos, I think of a thoughtful, honest, genuine, friendly, caring man. These are the best guiding principles to practice in order to live the best life possible. Knowing that there are people like Carlos walking the Earth, means that it is possible for others to have a life like that.
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”–Margaret Mead
In today’s culture of selfishness, arrogance, and dishonesty, it’s good to know that there are thousands of people like Carlos living among us. As Margaret Mead said, these people are those who not only change the world for the better, they inspire the rest of us to strive to become better, too. The life-affirming, loving, caring, forgiving nature of these people shows us anybody can always become more friendly, caring, and compassionate.
Back in 1969, when Carlos lived with us, we shared my bedroom together. It was then, that I experienced the joy of having an older brother. I relaxed my status as my siblings’ oldest brother and became a “middle-child” for awhile. Having such a compassionate, peaceful person like Carlos to emulate was a beautiful experience. Our heart to heart late night conversations were some of the most meaningful interactions of my life.
Carlos likes to say, “There is no shame in being a bleeding-heart man and there should be much shame in being a cold-hearted man.” He still thinks there is some glimmer of hope for the most egotistical, hard-hearted people. This point sometimes manifests in my own life. On those rare occasions when someone “accuses” me of being a bleeding-heart liberal, I thank them for noticing.
I can thank Carlos and friends like him for being loving examples of people we need more of in this world. Although I have a long ways to go to be like them, they give me real hope to keep moving in the right direction.