A recent social media post about a random act of kindness was met with a variety of responses, most of which were some version of “too bad more people don’t do that” or “that used to be the norm.”
I wanted to comment that many people still do that, and that kindness is everywhere—if we are open to see it.During a recent visit with a woman I knew as a teen, she lamented the bad things that were happening in the old neighborhood. “Every day,” she said, “someone gets shot there.”
“Really?” I asked. “Have you been back to the old neighborhood?”
“Of course not,” she said, seeming shocked that I would even suggest it. “I watch the news.”
Many people seem to believe that the news is a comprehensive and honest portrayal of daily life. They have forgotten the maxim coined by news outlets: If it bleeds it leads.
I acknowledge that the proliferation of guns has made our country a more dangerous place to live, but crime is not new. The overexposure to violence on the twenty-four hour news cycle is what is new, and it creates the impression that only bad things are happening in our world. The truth is that bad things have always happened—alongside good things.
But if we are convinced that only bad things are happening, we will miss the good things that are happening all around us.Random acts of kindness are not sensational so they don’t get much press, but I see acts of kindness every day. Mostly, they are small things that do not rise to the level of television newsworthiness. They do, though, contribute to the creation of a caring community.At work the other day, someone suggested taking up a collection for a man who has been extra helpful this year (his random acts of kindness would fill a whole book), and someone else asked what we can do for a volunteer who is having surgery. A representative from a local company called to say they had collected gifts cards for us. Later, two people suggested sending cards to people in particularly difficult situations.
Kindness abounds, but we can easily miss it if fear colors our outlook and keeps us locked in our homes. We cannot see goodness when we are only looking for evil.Being more aware of kindness helps to counteract the negativity of the news.
Performing random acts of kindness also helps because it predisposes us to seeing the good by being the good.
My New Year’s resolution:
- To perform at least one random act of kindness every day;
- To acknowledge the kindnesses I witness by saying, “You are so kind” or “that was so kind;” and
- To accept acts of kindness with heartfelt gratitude.
I invite you to join me in focusing on acts of kindness—performing them, acknowledging them and accepting them. Perhaps then social media will explode with stories of kindness, and we will see kindness as the norm.