We need more of those acts of random kindness (A.R.K.). The world we live in has become an incredibly selfish, vicious and merciless place. With popular mantras such as “always look out for number one”, “it’s a fish-eat-fish world” or “keep your eyes on the prize”; it is no wonder the cultural climate of today is that primarily of egocentrism. It is engrained in us that we are supposed to provide for our own needs and wants above all others; without regard for what we do in order to achieve our desires. The pendulum has swung so far towards this idea of greed and self-indulgence that going out of your own way to help someone else seems atypical, strange even. What I would like to propose is acts of random kindness; boldly stepping out of our way and showing kindness towards others.
We’ve heard those stories where a customer offers to pay for the order of the person behind them, sparking a chain reaction of people offering to take care of the tab for the next person and so on and so forth. I love stories like those; one single act of random kindness can have an unintended snow ball effect impacting so many. I think Amelia Earhart says it so accurately, “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” In other words, kindness is contagious. There’s something about being the recipient of such selfless acts that makes you want to go out and do the same for someone else. In my travels, I have experienced such kindness from the locals of my destination. I was in Israel in a small kibbutz, which is essentially a small collective community, working on a archeological dig. Each day was physically demanding and exhausting; but one day on my walk back to my apartment, a local family (who were friends of our dig director-they weren’t total strangers) asked if I would like to join them for some iced coffee and cake. They welcomed me into their home and showed me incredible hospitality; I left their home in awe of their generosity they showed me. It was truly inspiring. Now I’m not saying you need to invite some people into your home for coffee and cakes, but there are so many ways in which we can give generously to others.
Time is a precious thing, calendars and schedules are jam-packed with all kinds of appointments and engagements that sometimes we don’t even have a second to spare. Setting aside some time from our busy lives and offering up that time to others can be an incredible kindness. Each of us are gifted in different areas, offering up our gifts and services to someone else could also be a great kindness to someone whose gifts lie elsewhere. Or if you have been blessed financially, making a monetary contribution or donation for someone who lacks financial means is a tremendous act of kindness. All of these are different avenues in which we can show kindness to others. As Harold Kushner stated, “When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world”. Don’t underestimate the power of an act of kindness.
Showing kindness to others can be as big or as little as you feel comfortable. These acts can indeed be random such as helping an elderly person unload their grocery cart, letting someone cut in front of you at the security check in the airport (we’ve all been there) or holding the door for someone in a wheel chair. It can absolutely be the simplest of things. Sometimes it goes unnoticed, but for those who are maybe having a tough day or struggling with something important; those are the people who are truly grateful for you act of random kindness. Kindness can also be very intentional like leaving a hand written note for a loved one, calling up a friend, volunteering to help set up for an event or donating money to a non-profit organization. I believe intentionality speaks volumes and can even mean more to someone because you had them at the forefront of your mind. If you would like to be more intentional with your acts of kindness, there are so many opportunities available to you. Good ole Google can help you locate various nonprofits and volunteering opportunities within your community where you can really put your kindness to use.
I would encourage you to work on your A.R.K., you never know the impact that it might have on someone’s life; it may even come back your way when you least expect it! As the Princess Diana said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” Let’s combat selfishness with acts of kindness.
And that’s the dirt!