the kindness of strangers

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loutra pozar, aridaia, greece

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers".
Tennessee Williams, A streetcar named Desire

In late 1950's, Marilyn Monroe, who was already Ella Fitzgerald's fan got the owner of Mocambo, a classy West Hollywood night-spot, to book the jazz singer. "I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…", Ella said later about Marilyn Monroe and the way she changed her career and her life. "After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”(Ms, August 1972)

Reading about this great story, I remembered the classic quote of Tenessee Williams in The Streetcar Named Desire about the kindness of strangers. This quote concludes all the tragic irony of the character Blanche DeBois; what she called kindness was actually exploitation. Psychological studies have shown that the lack of kindness to strangers is usually a result of prejudice, fear and suspicion. These negative feelings and behavior harm not only the consistency of society, but the life of each of us individually. On the contrary, prosocial behavior can reveal in many cases the best from everyone, like in this glamorous "fairy-tale" example of Hollywood. The supportive and positive behavior can give chances to people that otherwise would have been lost. 

Yet, how easy is for each of us to surpass the thorns, real or imaginary, to reach the rose?

Coon Dennis & Mitterer O John,  Psychology: A Journey, 2010, Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Morgan Michelle, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed: New edition: revised and expanded, 2012, Robinson.
Les Harding, They Knew Marilyn Monroe: Famous Persons in the Life of the Holywood Icon, 2012, McFarland.