Yes, the spirit is alive; funny how crisis can bring it out…what about the rest of the time?
If you’ve been following the news and have heard about the layaway angels this year, you’ve probably been touched by the wonderful things these strangers have done, by paying off the layaway balances of random people at random stores across the country. If you’ve been following the HMEA Facebook fan page, you probably saw the recent post about the stranger in the parking lot who handed a teacher $70 to buy lunch for the special needs students at our school in Hudson. Did you hear the story about the person who put $10,000 into a Salvation Army bucket a couple days ago?
Seems that random acts of kindness are pervasive these days – how refreshing! I can’t believe how many days in a row I’ve turned on the news and heard stories of generosity and giving. It’s too bad these kinds of stories seem to come only, or mostly, during the holiday season. And, seemingly – if my 40-some years serve me correctly – they also seem to come mostly during times of hardship and crisis. Right now is a case in point; we are facing some of the most difficult financial and economic struggles this country has had in decades. So now, generosity abounds. Coincidence? Maybe it’s just that the media is covering these stories more? Not sure. Would love your perspective.
I wonder how many people conduct random acts of kindness throughout the rest of the year. I want to believe the spirit stays alive January-November. As a parent of a child with special needs, and a person embedded in the disability community, I can say that I witness these kinds of acts a LOT. I include every level of kindness, from a smile of understanding by a person in line while I struggle with my son, to the volunteer who shows up at the Autism Resource Center unannounced, wanting and willing to do whatever is needed, to the behaviorist who stays an extra half hour to coach a parent through a meltdown of epic proportions, to the woman who called me in July and said she saw me at a presentation and wanted to reach out to thank me for making her aware of how to help someone in need with a disability.
So I’m the lucky one who gets to see these things, because I’m involved with the disability community – I know how great these things make me feel. What about the person whose life is not impacted by a disability or year-round crisis? There’s no question that the man or woman who loses their job suddenly gains a deeper understanding of others in their situation. Often that prompts them to do something charitable, that they may not have done before. We know that if a young person dies unexpectedly, or a terrible crime is committed, the neighborhood and loved ones rally to create an event that helps the family or that supports people in similar situations, like victim support agencies or the like.
These examples, however, are not random acts of kindness. They are reactive acts. Random falls into the category 0f proactive; done before they’re needed or expected.
I know that New Years Resolutions are passe these days; I still have yet to maintain one myself. But I think I will put ‘RAK’ on my calendar every month; maybe pick out a few days a month. Reminders to myself to carry on that wonderful, amazing, inspiring practice. Yes, it starts here during the holiday season. Let’s keep it going; will you join me?