This article appeared in the September 12, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Why it may be smart to depend on the kindness of strangers

Ramon Espinosa/AP
Sissel Mosvold embraces a volunteer who helped rescue her 84-year-old mother from her home, flooded by the waters of Hurricane Dorian, on the outskirts of Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 4, 2019.

Today’s stories examine a different view of a changing Texas, a problem of perception for female presidential candidates, the unexpected way scientific integrity went viral, how colleges think about your kid, and the country music history you didn’t know.

But first, why you might want to say hello to someone you don’t know today.

Fear of the stranger is educated into us from the time we are kids. And there can be common sense in it. “Don’t get into a stranger’s car” is wise advice, on the whole. But readers of the Monitor will be well acquainted with the kindness of strangers.

Dave Scott wrote Tuesday about how strangers gave a young Florida boy a beautiful sense of self-worth. Patrik Jonsson wrote Monday about how strangers’ extraordinary generosity is changing the dynamics of disaster relief. In The Washington Post Wednesday, I read about strangers who lined up more than 100 yellow cars outside a young cancer survivor’s window on his birthday because he loved Bumblebee from the “Transformers” films.

It’s too easy to cast these off as isolated incidents. But a recent Wall Street Journal article talks about the uplifting effect strangers can have on our lives. “People feel more connected when they talk to strangers, like they are part of something bigger,” says one psychologist.

At a time when news is so often filled with the fear of the stranger – from members of a different religion to people from another country – it is a reminder that the most remarkable blessings often come from those we know least.

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This article appeared in the September 12, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 09/12 edition