Leadership With Heart
It is easy to overlook the good people who exist in a world where abusers and con artists, gangs and cartels, terrorists and war lords, despots and dictators, and so on frequently seem to rule.
However, recently on vacation in the Caribbean, I was reminded that there are G-d-fearing and decent human beings that make the world a place still worth fighting for.
My wife and I signed up for a day tour of the local rain forest. Early in the morning, the van came to the hotel to pick us up as well as make the rounds for the others who were coming on the tour. However, little did we realize that the tour involved a lot of hilly and hair-splitting turns on mountainous roads, and before long, my wife, who gets terrible vertigo, was completely sick.
The tour guide was the first to notice and check on her and offer anything he could do: a bottle of water, driving a little slower, and letting my wife sit up in the front seat. Another young lady, who also wasn’t feeling well, gave up the front seat for her to try and help someone else who was worse off. Despite these efforts, my wife continued to be really sick, but there was no way to really turn back in the middle of the tour.
As the tour stopped along its designated spots of overlooks, rivers, waterfalls, etc., my wife would literally get off the van and drop into some grassy corner to lay down. In one spot, a guide from a completely different tour came over to ask about her wellbeing as well as to warn her about some poisonous plants that she had gotten a little too close to. He also offered any assistance that we could think of, including water, food, etc.
As the tour continued, my wife was in the front seat of the van, sick to her stomach and sort of “holding on for dear life” until the next stopover where she could get out. Once again, she exited the van and headed straight for a secluded corner to sprawl out and try to rest. Another van with tourists pulled up, and some of the ladies got out to ask about my wife and express their regrets about what she was going through. One of the ladies, who herself wasn’t in the best of health, took out some Dramamine medicine for travel sickness and offered it to me to give to my wife.
After I examined the pills and gave the proverbial okay, my wife agreed to take some, upon which I immediately offered to pay her for it. She told me to put my wallet away and, with joy, handed me some medicine for my wife. When I returned to thank her again, she proceeded to hand me yet more, saying, “In case she needs some more later, take these!” Again, pulling out my wallet, I said, “Please let me pay you for this, I just can’t take these from you.” And she simply refused, handing me almost the last of her medicine. All I could say was, “Well, if you won’t let me pay you, let me say, ‘G-d bless you for your kindness!'” With that, she gave me a big smile, and the other ladies around her nodded their approval.
After this, when we finally got back to the hotel and my wife was feeling better, I told her how amazed I was with the goodness of these complete strangers that we encountered. I saw people who expressed concern and care for someone they didn’t know and for whom they wanted nothing in return.
I believe that this is ultimately what life is all about: it’s not about the money, the honor, or what we get out of a situation; rather, it’s about doing good in the world and savoring G-d’s blessing over anything that is material or narcissistic.