He’ll walk miles to prove we can be nice

July 24, 2018

Jim Smith, 50, of York, Pa., traverses a narrow shoulder of highway Tuesday, July 17, 2018 along Route 30 near Jeannette. Smith is embarking from Pennsylvania to walk across the country to promote compassion and kindness, and to prove that there are good people in the world.

Some of us see it during our daily commutes. Plenty of us see it on the internet.

People can be downright nasty.

This notion slapped James Smith in the face one day when his 11-year-old daughter got off a school bus in York County and told him: “Dad, you’re right. People do suck.”

He felt like a failure. But only for a short time.

Smith, who is 50, set out on a journey July 9 -- on foot -- in an effort to spread a positive message to others and to prove that kind and generous people are willing to help a stranger, if even for a glass of water or bed to sleep in. He quit his job as a distribution center manager and set out to prove her wrong while encouraging strangers to be introspective rather than pointing the finger at others.

He made his way through Westmoreland County last week on Route 30. Ultimately, he plans to walk the highway to Chicago and then head to St. Louis and Ferguson, Mo., before making his way to the West Coast and then back home in time for Christmas.

He carries a 25-pound backpack with necessities and the hope that others will hear his message -- “Point the Thumb.” The idea behind the slogan is that instead of pointing your finger at someone else, point your thumb at yourself. He labeled the journey “walking across America for humanity.”

He walks about 20 miles a day and engages others along the way.

Where are the good people and acts of kindness? They’re out there and Smith is finding them.

On Monday, Smith ended his walk at Greengate Centre in Hempfield. He spent the night at the Southwest Greensburg home of Mike Caggeso, who heard about Smith’s plans and offered him a place to stay.

A goal of his journey, in part, is to show his children that most people are inherently good.

We don’t have to have a lot to give a lot, perhaps some conversation, a meal and a place to sleep. Let’s hope Smith finds what he’s looking for.

A mission to find acts of kindness? Sounds like a simple mission.

We wish James Smith well.

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