It begins with Karen Klein, a bus monitor of middle school students in Greece, New York. She was bullied without mercy by several students on the bus one afternoon. A student recorded the whole incident on video and posted that video to YouTube. Several hours later, the video was seen by Max Sidorov, a man in his 20’s from Toronto. He said he was saddened by the video, and wanted to do something for Karen Klein to show her that there are still good people in the world. He launched a fundraising campaign on the site Indiegogo, in hopes of raising $5000 to send Karen on vacation. The last time I checked, almost $680,000 had been raised.
The fact that this story touched my heart is not unusual. Almost anyone would have compassion watching that video. The fact is, when the story first came out, I went to YouTube and tried to watch it until the end. I couldn’t do it. The verbal abuse and taunting that Karen Klien was more than I could take. What strikes me about this story is how the two people involved chose to respond to the situation that they found themselves in.
Karen Klien was being bullied. Those kids were cruel. The comments were vicious. Even so, Karen turned away from them and looked out the window. She was not unaffected by their words. Tears are visible streaming down her face. It would have been totally understandable, in my opinion, if Karen had lashed out at those boys in her anger and pain. I would have done so. She did not. Instead, she sat quietly. And then she decided not to press charges. She chose not to react.
Max Sidorov, on the other hand, watched that video, just like many other people did. He was outraged at the way Karen Klien was treated, He saw the injustice and identified with her pain. But he didn’t end there. He did more. He chose to act. The result of that decision drew national attention to a situation that was not right. And Karen Klein will have a more comfortable life because of it.
So many times when I am faced with a situation that draws out intense emotion within me I react in the moment. I want to express my anger or release my pain. Other times, I might hear a story that makes me sad or empathetic, and I dismiss it in the moment because I want to get rid of any uncomfortable feelings I have as soon as possible. But choices made in the moment are not always the right ones, and usually, they have more to do with my comfort than anything or anyone else.
Karen Klien and Max Sidorov made different choices than I would have . When they were faced with the choice to act or react, they each did a noble thing.
They are both a class act.