Not-so-random acts of kindness
(The following article was printed by This Week Online (Canada East) in May 2008.)
In our communities, being kind to one another is not something that only happens out of the blue, but is a part of life
The phrase "random acts of kindness" has been a part of popular culture for many years now, though its origins are under dispute. Peace activist Ann Hebert is said to have written the phrase "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a place mat in a restaurant in the late 80s.
Dr. Chuck Wall, a professor at Bakersfield College, recalls hearing about "random senseless acts of violence" on the news in 1993, and was inspired to assign his students the task of committing "one random act of senseless kindness" as homework. He has since copyrighted the phrase.
This grass-roots movement, which encourages people to do something nice for someone else spontaneously or with no expectation of return, built up steam during the 90s, in by 2004, Oprah Winfrey devoted an entire episode to the concept.
People around the globe have embraced the concept. Websites have been developed to encourage and record these acts, movies like Pay It Forward and Amelie use the concept as their premise, and schools have monthly 'Random Act of Kindness' awards for students who committ them.
Yet, as the mother of a local young woman who was the recipient of one such award pointed out, kindness should be something we expect from our children and each other. The kindness her daughter had shown was, in fact, not random at all, but a part of her everyday life.
In communities such as ours, where we pride ourselves on being friendly and helpful, are random acts of kindness truly random?
Whether you live in the heart of downtown Moncton, or in the beauty of Albert County, you likely see several acts of kindness committed by the people around you every day, and commit a few yourself. For us, being kind isn't limited by familiarity.
Feeding parking meters, picking up a dropped mitten, returning a lost wallet or giving spare change to someone who needs it, the people who live here are kind every day, to family, friends and strangers alike.
We should be proud to live in a place where being unkind is the exception, rather than the rule, and start celebrating the not-so-random acts of kindness that happen here.