A New Friendship


Prof. Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

Al was walking home from school. Suddenly he saw that the boy in front of him had fallen and dropped a large pile of books and other things that he was carrying. Al bent down and helped him pick up the scattered items. Since they were going the same way, he helped carry part of the burden.

As they walked, Al found out that the boy’s name was Ben, that he loved baseball, video games and history, but had difficulty with other subjects. Ben revealed that his girlfriend had just broken up with him, which made him depressed. They arrived at Ben’s home first, and he invited Al to come in and play with him. He stayed for an hour, and they talked and laughed. They continued to see each other around school, became best friends, and often visited each other.

Six years later at high school graduation when they were going to college in different towns Ben revealed,

“Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things the day we first met? You see, I emptied my locker, because I did not want to leave a mess for anyone else to have to clean up. I had saved some sleeping pills from my mother and was going to swallow them to kill myself. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I realized that if I had committed suicide, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow. When you helped me, you did not only pick up my books, you saved my life.”

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life–for better or for worse.


Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 May 2018.

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