One of the ideas for a blog post from the WordPress.com website was to write about your last “random act of kindness.” That got me thinking. Is any act of kindness really random? They usually take a little forethought and planning, even if it’s only a little. My last act of kindness could have been helping my husband shovel our driveway, but that was more of an obligation than being kind. Possibly the most random act of kindness I have participated in would be a last-minute favor for someone that had no advanced planning or much notice. Like when we helped our neighbor push her car out of the driveway so we could jump start it. I even sacrificed by trudging through thigh-deep snow in my jeans to get around the car. Feel free to applaud. But I don’t think that’s what people think of when they mention random acts of kindness.
Maybe what they mean is the spur of the moment idea, doing something to random people that you don’t know, like paying for someone else’s coffee at Starbucks. I can’t remember the last time I did something like that. Things like that either cost money, which I don’t have, or require going out of your comfort zone to interact with a stranger. Not likely to happen. But even that takes a little planning ahead.
One of the definitions of “random” says it means that something is being “governed by or directed by chance.” I don’t think any act of kindness really happens by chance. We usually do things for a reason. Even if that reason is just to be a good person, it’s not by chance, it’s on purpose. You intend to do it.
Just because I don’t do “random” acts of kindness, doesn’t mean I don’t do service. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I will proceed to toot my own horn: I babysit for people, give people rides, give to charity and try to be as nice and polite as possible, even when people are rude. I’m a good person. I am kind.
Perhaps there should be an increase of the little spur of the moment things like letting someone go in front of you in the grocery store or handing out a compliment. But I think in general that the random act of kindness is overrated. Any kindness is appreciated and the more “planned out and purposeful act of kindness,” like a secret Santa drop or a thoughtful note, might be even more appreciated.