As Thanksgiving break concludes, I wanted to share something that caught my attention throughout it. The month of November was renamed “Acts of Kindness Month”, featuring random pictures, videos, and stories of exceptional behavior. At first what I saw seemed outrageous- people were going completely out of their way to help others. Today, people think of thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity as who gives the most expensive, valuable objects as a gift or who can do the most publicly visible gesture like donating money or advocating for a third world nation. Really, in my mind, these actions are disingenuous efforts-acts ruled by self centric accolades. On the other hand, being able to be creative and know just what will touch a person means so much more. Interestingly, these situations are not planned ahead of time- they already had a kind heart and did what they felt was just the right thing to do. Old and young, rich and poor, friend and competitor all performed incredible acts-a man got out of his car to help an old lady cross a busy road, a family gave a local homeless man a Thanksgiving dinner and included him in their activities, and two competitors carried an opponent around the bases in a softball game after she had hit a home run and hurt her knee and her own team couldn’t help her.
In the Jewish tradition, charity and giving are constant demands of the commandments. There are levels of giving with the most revered being those that are committed with no benefit to the giver and done so anonymously. I am sure that is true for all of the major religions. My take on it is that it is in your nature or not-that being a natural, constant giver is not something that can be trained so much as a natural inclination, especially in the case of random and spontaneous acts. I also think though that kindness should not be closely evaluated. The value of what one does should not be judged so long as they participated.
At two of my sister’s college, Lehigh tried to get more people to say hi (because of Le’high’) and Brown created a website where people can post random compliments. When I even smile at someone in the hallways at TA, I get a glare, confused, or blank look. As much as people think of Maine as a close knit community, I’m really excited for college where everyone has something in common and it isn’t unusual for strangers to show a random act of kindness.
This website had some incredible ones…http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/18/random-act-of-kindness in_n_2147755.html#slide=1264949