I’ve got to say I cannot agree with Random Acts of Kindness Day. This Friday, November 4th has been dubbed Random Acts of Kindness Day and is defined as a day to celebrate “little niceties”, and encourage people to pay those “acts of kindness forward.” On the surface this is a seemingly charming and lovely philosophy. But think about it—do we really need one day to prove that we are thoughtful? Shouldn’t we always practice kindness, and not just randomly? And if we are doing the act of kindness as a way to pay it forward, then is it really an act of kindness or just something to get the karma going? (You know–do something nice now to get something nice done for you in the future.)
Random’s cousins are chance, accidental, haphazard, indiscriminate, casual and unsystematic. Should we really practice something accidentally or haphazardly? Should we not put some thought into our acts of kindness? And to take it one step further—shouldn’t we be kind without having to found a day to enact helpfulness, compassion and charity?
I went to a website touting “Random Acts of Kindness Day” where one mother’s testimony showed her pride in her young daughter for being kind. In her own words this is how she described the random act of kindness:
“I am thrilled that my daughter, Maggie, came home from Senior Kindergarten and said she pulled everyone in the wagon outside (instead of taking her usual turn) and then she “wowed” me even more when she said she is going to make “kindness day” every day!”
Well, duh—so we have to be guided by a kindergartener in not just being kind for a day, but being kind every day? Maggie certainly has the right idea—being kind just one day out of the year didn’t make sense to her.
Do we have to be guilted into being kind? The ads on TV say “hold a door open for someone, smile at someone to brighten their day, pay someone a compliment”. Don’t we do that anyway? Seriously, the world is in really bad shape if we have to be told to do these things. If you do not naturally do them (and I think most people do) then you are not going to start just because someone has declared it Random Acts of Kindness Day!
Okay, before I fall off my soap box, let me wish you a Happy November. I always feel sorry for November—it seems to be the lost month. In Canada it is between that happy month of October and the merry month of December. Maybe November needs some random acts of kindness. We should learn to like grey and rain and a month with a solemn day to remember those who fought (and continue fighting or peacekeeping-a much nicer word). I believe it is great that we have a day, one day, we set aside to honour those who faced (and face) atrocities for our freedom.
Remembrance Day is a little like Random Acts of Kindness Day. We should remember all the time, just as we should be kind all the time. I would never get rid of Remembrance Day or the couple of minutes we spend on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour remembering, but we should not just don a poppy and observe silence and think we have done our duty. So many of my baby boomer friends, whose dads served in the WWII and are no longer here, remember that their brave fathers (and a few, their mothers) did not brag about the war years, nor complain. They came home, took care of their families, and did not share the atrocities they saw or went through. I heed the words of Jose Narosky, the Argentinian writer who said “In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.”
Just as little Maggie is determined to make every day a “kindness day”, I am going to make every day a “remembrance day”, remembering those who made it easy for us to be able to practice kindness in a country where freedom reigns.
According to author Cynthia Ozick, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” Thank you to all those who made it (and continue to make it) possible for us to take our freedom and liberty for granted. No random act of kindness can repay you—but we can try.