Friday evening I was looking through Netflix for something decent to watch with my children. It's not often that I find anything new that I feel is worthwhile to sit through and is appropriate for all ages of family members...and isn't boring. But just as I was about to give up, this Netflix series caught my eye: The Kindness Diaries. Though it's not religious, this is a great show to watch as we go into Lent.
Leon Logothetis was apparently a stock broker before he decided to travel the world on a motorbike on a quest to see if human kindness and goodwill still exist. Each day, no matter which part of the globe he finds himself in, he relies on the kindness of strangers to give him a place to sleep for the night and a meal. He sometimes needs mechanical help with his bike that he cannot pay for, and he often needs directions. He literally approaches strangers on the streets and asks them if they will put him up for the night, but he also talks and connects with people throughout the day. Many times foreigners won't take him into their homes, but they will give him personal tours of the area, buy him something to eat and sit with him, and tell him their stories. He does encounter genuine acts of kindness everywhere he goes, and each day is a new adventure.
After watching several episodes, my children and I definitely noticed a trend: the poorest people were most often the ones who agreed to put him up for the night. The most remarkable example was of a homeless man in Pittsburgh who said that he couldn't invite him into his house because he was homeless, but Leon was welcome to rest at his little corner on the street with him and his friend. This man had been homeless for a year, after he and his wife separated. He gave Logothetis blankets to sleep on, what little food he had to eat, and even a spare set of clothes. He literally gave him everything he had. This touched the adventurer so much that he surprised the homeless man by buying him a house and enrolling him in an educational program that enabled him to become a chef. He is now creating meals for the elderly.
And that is the interesting twist to this show. Logothetis not only has these numerous adventures as he travels the globe and seeks kindness and hospitality from strangers, but he also gives back to those who are the most generous---and usually the most needy. He experiences firsthand the most extreme poverty in India, and yet that is also where he repeatedly experiences extreme generosity. People are willing to sleep on the floor and go without eating in order to provide him with a bed and food. When he is allowed to spend the night in an orphanage, he is given precious bottled water to drink while the residents themselves drink unsafe tapped water that often makes them sick. He is so touched by that, that he and his crew offer to purchase two water purifiers for the orphanage so that all the children have a right to clean water on a daily basis. These unexpected acts of kindness on his part touches and greatly impacts the lives of those less fortunate people who were willing to treat him with kindness by providing him with food and shelter for one night. And so the ripple effect occurs as kindness begets more kindness.
Just watching each twenty minute episode sparked heartfelt conversations in our family as we have been inspired to find our own ways to extend kindness to others throughout our days. What a wonderful way to enter this Lenten season. I know our family members often feel it's such a glum time of sacrificing something for forty days, but we can see in this series that sacrifice with love and kindness enriches our own lives more than we can anticipate. That by giving of ourselves willingly and cheerfully, we receive so much more in return.
And that makes this show so worthwhile.
If you don't have access to Netflix, he also wrote a book by the same title that can be found on Amazon.