Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Fallacy of Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness.  It's a phrase that bothers me. Every time I catch sight of a bumper sticker proclaiming these out of control impulses, I cringe.  If I replace the word random with some of its definitions, maybe you'll understand.

Accidental Acts of Kindness

I can't imagine how we can be kind accidentally. Our kindness may have unintentional consequences, such as when we are kind to the checker at the grocery store. The next person in line who witnesses our actions may feel better about the world. But we were intentionally kind to the checker in the first place.

Haphazard Acts of Kindness

This brings up images of someone stumbling around and spilling splashes of kindness paint on passersby, creating a Jackson Pollock-type world.

Hit and Miss Acts of Kindness.

While I admit that acts of kindness don't have to be accepted by the intended target, the actual act itself has to be directed at a recipient, even if it's ourselves. Try being kind to an empty room. 

So, why does this bug me? It belittles kindness by turning into some kind of tick. 

It takes an effort to be kind. It take practice. Kindness is like a muscle we develop through use. If someone cuts you off in traffic, which is more difficult? To wave your fist in the air and grumble about incompetent drivers, or to wonder if the poor soul is lost or late or frazzled and then follow with a quick prayer for the person's peace of mind? 

You have to work at being kind, especially in our knee-jerk reaction world. You have to have self-control, which requires discipline. 

We really should be kind to everyone we meet. If we practice Intentional Acts of Kindness, it could spread. We might even develop a sense of peace and a reputation as a nice person. Nice is underrated, but that's another topic.

Have you performed any Intentional Acts of Kindness?

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