What are Random Acts of Kindness?
This is when a complete stranger, for no apparent reason, does something to benefit another person. It may take the form of paying for that cake that the person in the queue behind you is waiting to pay for, paying for a another car owners parking in your local car park or even just giving your shopping trolly to the person fumbling around for the right change to fit in the slot.
Whatever form it takes, it is to do with doing something without the expectation of compensation other than the possible look of surprise on the other person’s face. In fact most Random Acts of Kindness that I have witnessed were done anonymously where the giver wanted to be gone before the act of giving is realised.
How did it start?
The phrase “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” was coined by author Anne Herbert in 1982 as a reaction to the more news friendly phrase at the time “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.” Anne Herbert was an assistant editor of a publication called CoEvolution Quarterly, a counter-culture publication that espoused home schooling, self-sufficiency, ecology and so on. In this respect practicing random acts of kindness was seen as revolutionary and a direct act of rebellion against the selfish corporate and political environment at that time.
Anne Herbert published a book in 1993 called Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty which was republished in 2017 as an illustrated modern parable. In it there are many examples of times when people’s sense of selfishness has been overcome by their natural sense of altruism and love for their fellow human beings.
In the years since 1982 many groups have been formed with the intention of promoting random acts of kindness. There is a website https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/ where you can become a Raktivist and they also are active on Twitter with the hashtag #MakeKindnessTheNorm. The image below is a download from their website so feel free to copy it and use it where you like.
There is also a random acts of kindness day which is February 17th when we are all encouraged to practice acts of kindness and the more random the better.
Here in Limerick we have a Random acts of kindness facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/Random-Acts-of-Kindness-Limerick-444695142350836/
Please visit their page and get inspired!