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A Rhino Being Human.

I received this email from a Canadian Facebook friend who teaches at the State University in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Hi Scott,

Living in St Petersburg, Russia, has some of the same things that one would find in any big city in the US (or Canada, in my case) One of these is homeless street people – laying around bus stops – begging – intoxicated on something – etc. One of these such persons here in St. Petersburg – whose name I found out one day last year while sharing a park bench with him is Yuri.   Now, Yuri is one of those homeless guys who makes his rounds around the city, so I only see him once or twice a month – I never give out money to people, but have on occasion bought them what they were begging the money for. I have bought Yuri some food and even a couple of beers when I have seen him in the streets begging. Yuri is very filthy and dirty but I can say I have never seen him intoxicated – in my short time speaking with him I found him to be rather intelligent as he could speak some English, he just seemed to be a very smelly filthy person who lived on the streets.

Yesterday we got a good dump of snow that has added to the already too much on the ground here, and snow removal is not a strong point for the city – there are no sidewalks now as huge piles of snow from the streets are pushed on them, so pedestrians have small paths that are hell to navigate and fresh fallen snow over ice makes the trek that much more interesting. Today as I walked to the bus slowly in what could be called a pedestrian traffic jam, I noticed the cause of the jam was what looked to be some rags dumped in the middle of the path – upon getting closer, I saw that it was a person laying in the middle of this rather narrow path with many people just stepping over him and cussing him out at the same time. When it came my turn to navigate around this body, I found that this person was Yuri – I knelt down to see if he was OK and it was evident that he wasn’t (I had the feeling it was medical because I had never seen him intoxicated) Now there were two of us being sworn at and no one wanted to stop to help me take Yuri off the path. As I thought about what to do, 2 police came up the path (now this being Russia, I usually take off at the sign of the “Militzia” otherwise I may be contributing to their personal retirement fund via some bull law that they say I’ve broken as a foreigner) This time I motioned them over and, as luck would have it, one was a female (females have a higher tendency to speak some English – most male cops have trouble with Russian let alone another language) and she spoke English – I told her that I didn’t think Yuri was drunk and that he needed medical help and so with the help of her partner we got Yuri over to a park bench near by – she checked him out while her partner called for medical help. Yuri was conscious, but barely – he recognized me and motioned me to come closer – grasping my hand in his extremely dirty filthy hands he squeezed them and told me in Russian “Slava Bogu – Praise God – Spaciba Bolshi moe drueg – Thank you big my friend” and he died. The lady checked for a pulse, but he was gone. She told me that there was nothing for me to do and that I could go if I wanted to – As I turned to go she said that it was kind of me to stop to help a stranger and that she had never witnessed that before. I told her it wasn’t kindness – it was human.

Starting one’s day with a person dying in your hands gets one to reflect on why we are here – and that we can never give up our dreams – we are where we are for a purpose – I believe I was on that path today for this purpose as there were a dozen other ways I could have gone.

I wanted to share with someone that I know would understand – I thought of you.  Frank Godon

Frank’s letter really hit me hard.  The thought of Yuri dying in the snow as people stepped over him shocked me.  I talk a lot about following your dreams and changing the world.  Changing the world is not necessarily something that takes a lot of effort.  Changing the world does not require special schooling, lots of money or friends in high places.  Changing the world can be done now, by anyone with the love that Frank exhibited – by being human.  Frank, I am proud to be able to call you a friend.  Now, let’s go out and change the world!  Keep charging!!  Scott Alexander

Frank Godon - a Rhino changing the world.

Frank Godon - a Rhino changing the world.

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02 2011

10 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. Paula McInaney/Nashville #

    Thanks Scott for posting Frank’s letter. A testimonial about being human, along with your comment for changing the world with our human-ess. There is a lot of living to do yet with great opportunities to take the higher road and be a champion — like Frank!

  2. scott #

    Thank you, Paula! “Whatever you did for the least of your brothers and sisters, you did for me.” God is proud of Frank.

  3. LESLIE S.S. #

    scott.. this is an incredible story of unconditional love in action, thank u for sharing it!! frank is truely a man of GOD, and i might add an example of a heart , we all need to strive for as the world grows darker each day.
    thank u for passing on franks story .. L.

  4. scott #

    You and Frank are both heroes in my book, Leslie. Keep charging!!

  5. Victor Reynolds #

    Now THAT’S a Rhino!!! And a very sobering story for those who are following their dreams. Thanks Scott!

  6. 6

    Off Topic. I recently purchased your books through Amazon for my kids. I found you through an article in Men’s magazine. In an interview with Bear Grils (sp?), from the Discovery Channel show. The book he recommended reading, and said he reads every year since childhood, is Rhinoceros Success. Apparently he is a fan. As a jest, he says his mother is sorry she ever bought him the book.

  7. scott #

    Hi Mike! Yes, I saw that article. It is quite an honor for me to have him mention my books. He is quite the rhino. Thank you! Give your kids a rhino grunt for me and keep charging!!!

  8. Frank #

    Those who have read this story and can relate to this “being human” idea – I have a request for another person here in St Petersburg – a little girl who will die if she doesn’t receive a surgery to remove a tumor – she is 4 years old and prior surgeries have left her blind. Her story can be seen here


    Those wishing to help can find out how at this web site


  9. Jacqui #

    This got me in tears. Both sad and happy. Sad for the fact of Yuri passing, and for HOW it happened. Happy that Frank was so kind to him., especially to pull him out of an unforgiving crowd like that. Thanks for sharing, Scott.

  10. 10

    What an amazing story to wake up to…what an amazing man.
    Truly makes you STOP and REALIZE…we never know when it will
    be ours or someone else’s last day here on earth.

    Praise God for Frank – a hero who LOOKED past the filth — saw
    the man inside and then took action to get to “know” him. What
    a blessing for both these men as Yuri took his last breath…for Frank
    to be at Yuri’s side at that precise moment (for Yuri)..and for Yuri to speak these as his last words to Frank (for Frank)….

    This story will be in my head (and heart) all day. Go Rhino Frank!

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