There have been countless instances of when humanity wasn't as bad as it sometimes seems.
Reddit user ThatLegendjpb opened up a treasure trove of hope and inspiring wholesomeness when they asked the r/history community to describe their favorite unexpected acts of kindness throughout history. Thousands responded with various instances of when humanity wasn't as bad as it sometimes seems, giving hope that we will overcome even the current state of crisis in the world. And while almost all of them describe gestures or events that left their mark on history, according to Dr. Darren R. Reid—a historian who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Dundee and is now a lecturer at Coventry University—it's not always the scope of an action that can make it honorable.
"Personally, the greatest acts of kindness for me come from the smallest of gestures," he told Bored Panda. "Holding the door open for a stranger, smiling at someone when you make eye contact with them when you pass them in the street, making conversation with someone you find yourself sitting next to on a park bench, etc. These are far from the most elaborate acts of kindness, but they are things we can all do every second of every day. They cost nothing and, if everyone did them, I think the world would overall be a little better."
Here are 21 of our favorite moments of kindness listed by members of the r/history community:
During the Berlin Airlift in WWII, as U.S. and British pilots flew supplies to the isolated city, one @USAirForce pilot made it a point to look out for the children there. Click ▶️ to meet the “Candy Bomber.” #KnowYourMil pic.twitter.com/2MY6cGE9Tk— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) May 12, 2019
Hundreds of Jews survived the Holocaust with the help of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara. Recognizing the desperate climate in Lithuania, where he was based, Sugihara issued about 2,000 transit visas to Jews in an attempt to help them flee the Nazi threat. He died #OTD in 1986.— US Holocaust Museum (@HolocaustMuseum) July 31, 2021
When the Ottomans helped the Irish 🚢🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/cAQKMt1QrG— IlmFeed (@IlmFeed) October 6, 2018
October 1943.— David Harris (@DavidHarrisAJC) October 2, 2021
Nazi Germany, which occupied #Denmark, ordered deportation of its 7,800 Jews to concentration camps.
Many Danes resisted. They quickly organized & ferried 90% of the Jews to neutral Sweden, where they’d be safe.
Unforgettable courage & humanity.
Thank you, 🇩🇰. pic.twitter.com/7u5IQNKUWi
#OTD 1942, Nobuo Fujita became the only enemy pilot to bomb the contiguous U.S. when he dropped incendiaries near Brookings, Oregon after being launched from sub I-25 in a Yokosuka "Glen". After the war, he presented Brookings with his 400-year-old katana to express his regret. pic.twitter.com/IpGkBWrFIg— U.S. Naval Institute (@NavalInstitute) September 9, 2020
In the 1860s mill workers in Manchester refused to process cotton that had been picked by enslaved people in the US. Sharing this as I find the story powerful and also because some men on TikTok have told me it never happened https://t.co/5CjVzp068i— Kate Sang 🌻🐝🐘 (@katesang) July 22, 2021
As Indian students from Ukraine stream into Poland, here’s the story of a Gujarati king who once sheltered hundreds of Polish orphans. pic.twitter.com/3HYjDwulzE— Brut India (@BrutIndia) March 2, 2022
20 December 1943,— WWII Pictures (@WWIIpix) June 2, 2018
German pilot Franz Stigler had the opportunity to shoot down a severely damaged US B-17 bomber flown by 2nd Lt Charles Brown, instead, he escorted them back to England.
After the war, both pilots became close friends and remained so until their deaths. #WW2 pic.twitter.com/c1KuzJI5ai
fun fact:— ketu @ mental health break (@FoxWithGuitar) April 24, 2021
Queen Victoria donated a ton of books to us after the Great Chicago Fire bc she assumed our public library had burned
Thing is, we’d never had a public library. So we threw her books in an old water tank & called it the “New Chicago Public Library” as a subtle white lie pic.twitter.com/xFlape2VnH
#TodayInHistory The Christmas truce begins in 1914 during WW1, when both sides call for an unofficial ceasefire for 3 days. German, French and British soldiers, crossed the trenches,to exchange greetings. Some ventured into the No Man's Land to exchange gifts too. pic.twitter.com/33NbYbfSzH— History Under Your Feet (@HistorifyToday) December 24, 2020