Now, at least, L.A. is the epicenter of good deeds
by Paul Dean
L.A. Times Staff Writer
We were begged to make love, not war. That made a lot of babies but didn't do much to keep us out of
Then we were offered a kinder, gentler nation, brightened by a thousand points of light. It went dark after one term.
Now we're into random acts of senseless kindness.
It is the blissful, altruistic, current message of four books, several thousand T-shirts, bumper stickers on Kern county sheriff's vehicles and a rediscovered Gospel according to neighborhood pulpits.
What stirred a year ago as an essay assignment at a community college is bringing a mountain of mail from Europe and
Vons and Hughes markets gave away food and an elderly woman continues to hunt the west Valley's runaway dogs with cans of Alpo. An attorney carried 200 Big Macs to
For a glowing moment,
And Chuck Wall is delighted.
He mentally edited the phrase, substituted kindness for violence.
Suddenly, Wall says, he had "a great phrase that turned a negative into a positive." Which he turned into an assignment, challenging his class to perform, then write about, their own acts of senseless kindness.
In almost immediate concert, a world of nervous youngsters, angry parents, jaded cops, worried clergy and frustrated politicians began clutching at Wall's alternative to human disregard and rudeness - this tiny opportunity to tug
It is fitting that Wall was contacted last week by four
Even more appropriate was that volunteers moving among earthquake victims included a team from the
Several hundred thousand
Dave Carlisle, 66, a Korean War veteran and West Pointer, is a sick man. He has suspended renal failure and his life sentence is three home dialysis treatments each day.
Why would he do that?
"Why wouldn't I?" he responds.
Joe Molina, a Woodland Hills publicist, felt obligated to kindness by a gift. When he bought ice and emergency supplies at a
Molina duplicated the kindness. He drove to Chatsworth to check on friends and employees, ran their errands and invited a dozen to a party at his own cracked home.
"It was my Quake Wake, a barbecue the champagne and caviar because being extravagant magnified the pick-me-up," he says. "I saw acts of kindness everywhere. . . .Unlike other times in my city, this time the only thing that was bad news was the quake, not the people."
Times reporter Rich Connell could have declined involvement by pleading professional objectivity. But he spent a night in a shelter at Van Nuys High School for one story and was moved by the dedication of volunteer nurses trying to calm crying babies.
"There's a point where you say: 'All these people want is a couple of rocking chairs,'" he says.
Connell posted an appeal on a city room notice board. He has been given two rockers with promises of more.
The earthquake reduced Beaver's Den - Sandra Beaver's antique store in Tarzana-to three trash containers of broken glass and china.
The phone rang at the height of her misery. It was a wrong number, a woman calling from
Beaver calmed her, took the Valley number and was able to contact the unharmed relative. Then she called
When walls are no longer tumbling down, when damage is repaired and no longer a reminder, will we revert to cutting in and flipping off and barging through our daily encounters?
Wall thinks not.
He says there's just too much attention being paid to the idea for it to be a phase.
"Everywhere you look, every thing you read, everyone you talk to is saying they've had it with violence and that there must be a better way to live," Wall says. "And kindness is a better way."
But how can this ideal succeed when most other dreams have sputtered?
"Because there are no special interest groups involved and kindness is not a political statement," he says. "No famous people are involved, you don't have to spend money on it, it requires no physical effort and political correctness certainly isn't part of it.
"Random acts of senseless kindness is just Heartland