The Impact of Kindness
Last week I was saddened to hear the news of Jim Weirich’s passing. I had only met Jim once, but his impact on me was profound. I remember downloading PragProg’s Source Control Made Easy and having my mind blown as a cheerful gentlemen explained the intricacies of Git. When I started getting into Ruby and TDD, the very first thing I played with was his Ruby Koans. Fast forward a couple years, and I got to have lunch with him at my very first Ruby conference!
At the time I had no idea who he was or what his contributions were. I can still remember him enthusiastically addressing each of my newbie questions regarding Rake and contributing to open source. The entire conversation felt like I was talking shop with an old friend. That was one of the special things about Jim: his unmatched empathy allowed him to bridge that experience gap. Simply put, he just made everyone feel special.
he just made everyone feel special
Just take a look at some of things that other developers had to say about him:
I’ll never be able to reproduce his laugh, but if I can be half as kind, or half as smart as @jimweirich was, I’ll consider it a success. — Aaron Patterson (@tenderlove) February 20, 2014
If you want to honor @jimweirich, treat everyone like they’re your best friend, smart, and fascinating. That’s how he lived. — Jeff Casimir (@j3) February 20, 2014
So sad to hear of @jimweirich‘s passing. He was an inspiration in every way. Learned so much from him. We lost someone great. :'( — coreyhaines (@coreyhaines) February 20, 2014
It was a huge deal for me, because I knew how important he was in the community. But he always treated me as if I were just as important. — Jen Myers (@antiheroine) February 20, 2014
RIP to my friend and mentor @jimweirich. I will always remember your warm hugs, intelligence and positivity. It was an honor. — Leon Gersing (@rubybuddha) February 20, 2014
The most devastating thought I’ve had today is the idea that new developers coming to Ruby will never get to experience @jimweirich — Noel Rappin (@noelrap) February 20, 2014
The above tweets made me reflect on how we treat one another. More specifically, they emphasize how simple acts of kindness can impact people; and even more specifically than that, how they can alter a person’s day. Just one thing can inspire someone to pay it forward and contribute to their community. Individually they can seem small but all together they can cause a giant ripple effect and compel thousands of people to rally together to say goodbye to a complete stranger.
With Jim, you could find his marks of kindness everywhere: they were as big as sharing his work with the entire programming community to as little to sitting down and chatting with a brand new Ruby developer.
Thank you Jim. You will be missed.