Saturday, January 23, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness?

In an article written by Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun in September 2009, he stated that in ancient Greece, Aristotle defined kindness as "helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything."

In anticipation of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Vancouver this past September, the Vancouver Sun Newspaper asked readers to write in about random acts of kindness.  Specifically, they asked readers to “Please send us a letter in 200 words or less describing what "act of kindness" you have performed or plan to do”.

What really stuck with me though, was that they wanted readers to tell about random acts of kindness that they performed. Honestly, I would have much rather heard about someone who was on the receiving end of a random act of kindness. In fact, one gentleman who wrote a letter to the editor asked the question “if one does a random act of kindness is it still a random act if they then tell everyone about it?” I couldn’t have agreed with him more.

Some of the letters telling of what people did were truly fantastic. Others would have fallen into the category of plain old using good manners. Honestly, is someone opening a door for someone else with an armload of books a random act of kindness? In my opinion, that is something that should be done as a common courtesy.

I love the idea of a random act of kindnesses. The best part of them is that it might be something that someone might do and not realize the impact it has on the recipient. A random act of kindness could be someone telling a stranger how beautiful she looks, without realizing that that same woman struggled that morning trying to figure out how to put on her wig because all her hair had fallen out due to chemotherapy. That one small comment has a profound effect on the receiver.

A random act of kindness could be something as small as bringing a bouquet of tulips to a busy and harried school secretary “just because”, or anonymously picking up the tab for a young family at the local diner. It is something that is done from the heart with no expectations of anything in return, including recognition.

Perhaps I am being a bit over the top in that I don’t really need to hear about the random acts from the people who have done them. I am all for doing random acts of kindness, just not telling everyone that you did it. I do however love to hear stories from the recipients of these random acts. It is then that you truly appreciate the effect.


Erin said...

You raise a good question, Anna. I agree with you, I'd much rather read from the person on the receiving end. Hearing from the 'good deed doer' sounds like they're just trying to toot their own horn!

Leslie said...

I left you something over on my blog. We need more updates! =)