It's an especially powerful image to see a supposed "tough guy" displaying a gentle act of kindness, like a soldier cradling a child in a war zone or a fireman rescuing an animal. It teaches us all that decency and compassion are the responsibility of all people.

One such story has understandably swept the nation. A tourist from Arizona was in New York City and snapped an amazing photograph on her cell phone. On a chilly November night, a homeless man sat on a sidewalk with no shoes. A young police officer asked the homeless man if he had anything to put on his feet. The homeless man said, “I’ve never had a pair shoes, but God Bless You.” The police officer then did something extraordinary. He went to a store and spent his own money to buy the man a pair of boots. The photo of the officer kneeling on the sidewalk to present the boots became an internet sensation.

Among the many great aspects of this story, the officer did not know he was being photographed. This was a spontaneous — and, he thought, anonymous — act of generosity. According to family and friends of the officer, this sort of behavior is common. One family member says he learned kindness from his grandfather. A lesson for us: just as young people notice when role models behave badly, they also see when they do what's right.


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