The Flatiron Building in the heart of the Big Apple, so-called because of its shape (parang plantsa). It has no relation to the story, printed to show how iconic New York building are.
This story will make you cry
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - June 1, 2020 - 12:00am

Gentle reminder: Before you read the following story, make sure you have a box of tissue beside you and a hanky to blow your nose into between sobs. No kidding! The story will move you to tears.

It was forwarded to Funfare by STAR columnist (Remember When?) Danny Dolor who got it from somebody else who got it from somebody else, so on and so forth. Danny didn’t say who the author was but thanks to whoever he/she maybe for touching many a heart.

“It’s a true story,” Danny was told by the friend who sent him the story.

The Night Trial in New York City in 1935

On a cold January evening in 1935, a trial was held in New York City (NYC). An old tattered-looking woman was on trial for stealing a loaf of bread. She looked sad and under the sadness was shame.

The mayor of NYC, Fiorello Henry La Guardia, happened to be the judge that night. He asked her, “Did you steal the loaf of bread?” The woman lowered her head and said, “That’s right, your honor. I did steal the bread.”

The judge then asked, “What was your motive for stealing the bread? Were you hungry?”

Looking at the judge, she said, “Yes, I was hungry but I didn’t steal the bread for myself. My son-in-law abandoned his family, my daughter fell sick and their two daughters were starving because they hadn’t eaten in days. I couldn’t stand seeing them hungry. They are still so young.”

By the time she was finished speaking, the whole room had fallen silent.

The judge told the woman, “Everyone is equal before the law. In stealing the bread, you can choose to either pay a $10 fine or go to jail for 10 days.”

The woman said, “Judge, I am willing to be punished for what I have done, but respectfully if I had $10 I wouldn’t have stolen the bread. I am willing to go to jail. My only concern is who will take care of my daughter and my grandchildren while I am in jail.”

The judge paused for a moment and leaned back on his chair. He then reached into his pocket, pulled out $10 and held it up for the court to see. He said loudly, “With this $10 note, I will pay for your punishment. You are free to leave.”

He turned to the people in the courtroom and proclaimed, “In addition, I charge each person in this court 50 cents as penalty for the indifference and ignorance in this community. An old woman shouldn’t have to steal bread to feed her family,” and added, “Mr. Bailiff, collect the money and give it to the accused.” Fifty cents each from the owner of the grocery where the woman stole the bread, as well as from a dozen other defendants awaiting trial and several police officers. They all felt honored to contribute 50 cents and stood up to warmly applaud the verdict.

The next day, the story was featured in an NYC newspaper which reported that $47.50 had been given to the poor, accused woman. The judge’s decision made a point of how complicit people had become in the suffering of others and how we are all accountable in the crime.

The message rippled throughout the city. We are all connected in this world. If one suffers, so do we all. It’s up to us to ensure that no person, family or community goes unnoticed. It’s easy for us to look after our own material benefits and not pay attention to the needs of others.

Mark Twain: “Goodness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Some ‘If you care’ reminders

It’s a feel-good Monday. After having a good cry over the above story, here are some reminders from another friend that might be helpful not just during the lockdown days.    

• If you care for your lungs, avoid smoking.

• If you care for your heart, avoid excess salt.

• If you care for your liver, avoid excessive fatty food.

• If you care for your stomach, avoid cold food.

• If you care for your intestines, replace junk food with vegetables.

• If you care for your pancreas, avoid over-feeding yourself.

• If you care for your kidneys, drink lots of water during the day, drink less water at night and empty your bladder before going to bed.

• If you care for your brain, sleep for eight hours every night.

• And if you care for your family and friends, send them these reminders.

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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