There’s a famous quote that’s been making its rounds on social media for the last few years that reads, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Some have mistakenly attributed the quote to Plato and Philio of Alexandria, but it was Ian Maclaren, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, who actually said it.
While Maclaren’s words seem to have struck a chord with many online, in real life, true kindness can be hard to come by. But one shop owner in Toledo, Ohio, learned that all it takes is one kind gesture to brighten someone’s day and maybe even change someone’s life.
KIND ACT: Instead of calling police, this Ohio convenience store owner decided to help out a teenage shoplifter in need. "If he goes to jail then he's definitely not going to do anything good in life." https://abcn.ws/2Uue4qL
Posted by ABC News on Tuesday, April 9, 2019
In an interview with WVTG, Jitendra “Jay” Singh said that on the weekend, at the 7-Eleven store he owns and runs, one of his clerks informed him that someone in the store was acting suspiciously. Singh went to the back room to investigate and check the surveillance camera, and, sure enough, he saw a young man pocketing items from one of the aisles.
Singh immediately instructed his employee to call 911 and went over to confront the young man. The teen, who had lifted several food items, told Singh that he was hungry and was stealing it to feed himself and his younger brother.
That’s when Singh shifted all his gears and realized he had to help the helpless teen. Singh told CBS News, “I said you need food? I’ll give you food. That’s not a problem.”
He asked his staff to hang up on the 911 call too.
He then went to the hot food section and grabbed chicken drumsticks, sausage rolls, an entire pizza, and a 2-liter (approx. 68-ounce) bottle of soda to give the young man for free.
Singh later reasoned: “It’s not going to make any difference to me if I give him some food, because we make a lot of food, we sell a lot of food. If he goes to jail, then he’s definitely not going to do anything good in life.”
The entire incident was witnessed by a man named Cedric Bishop, who had been shopping at the store at the time. Struck by Singh’s generosity, the Bishop took to social media to share his account of what happened that day.
I WENT TO THE 7 – ELEVEN STORE ON UPTON AND BERDAN AND A YOUNG MAN AROUND 15 OR 16 WAS CAUGHT SHOPLIFTING. THE OWNER OF…
I'M HERE AT 7 – ELEVEN DOING A INTERNATIONAL INTERVIEW WITH THE CBS NATIONAL NEWS FROM CHICAGO ILL. AND THE TOLEDO 11 NEWS.
Cedric said he was so moved by Singh’s kindness that he gave the teen $10. “Some young people just need to know that someone cares,” he wrote.
Since then, the post on Singh’s act of compassion has gone viral, and many touched social media users took to the comments section to applaud the owner for his gesture.
One person wrote, “I hope that was a defining moment in that young man’s life.”
While another commented: “There are still kind people in the world. True kindness can change people’s lives. Hopefully, this young man will always remember this and pay it forward one day when he’s able.”
Netizens weren’t the only ones impressed by Singh’s goodwill. His wife, Neera, too was also touched by what her husband did but admitted that it didn’t surprise her.
“I’m really proud of him and it is the true self of himself,” she said. “I know him, he’s very kind.”
As for Singh, he said, “It’s basically our Indian culture that if you give food to a hungry person, that’s considered like God will bless you for that.”
Singh is a perfect example of Ian Maclaren’s words put into practice. We can all learn a thing or two from him. The next time you encounter someone who challenges you, confront them with kindness instead of condemnation.