It was another busy day on the London Underground. As the doors of the tube opened, a single mother with a Downs Syndrome child pushed her way in. At the other end of the same carriage another mother with two small boys, each holding red balloons, also managed to get inside.

Despite her mother's best efforts, the Downs Syndrome child was screaming and shouting. Nobody moved to offer them a seat. Backs were turned, books and newspapers were raised; everybody kept their heads down.

Then the other mother began speaking to her two boys. Seconds later the two boys, with their red balloons, made their way through the crowded carriage towards the distraught child. When they reached her, somewhat reluctantly, they handed the mother and her child their two balloons.

At that moment, the child stopped crying and struggling in her mother's arms. She took hold of the balloons and a huge smile came to her face. Two red balloons - an unexpected and unsolicited gift - calmed the tormented child.

As the boys rejoined their mother, heads were raised. People began to clap and to thank the boys for their kindness. For a moment there was a real sense of community in that carriage.

It took a simple act of generosity to calm a mother and her child. It took that act to free the rest of us from our inhibitions and fears of becoming involved. It took the exchange between those two little boys and a tormented child to help us discover, for a moment, the true meaning of what it means to be alive and together in community.

~ Anon ~





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