By Jason Menard
I have chosen to boycott today’s Random Acts of Kindness Day despite being a willing participant in the activities. It’s not that I have anything against it; I just don’t see the need.
But maybe I’m living in a world and holding onto ideals that no longer exist.
Various Web sites have popped up and people have been blogging about this event, all of which offer suggestions about how you can pay it forward. InWindsor, they’re actually handing out cards that you can pass along once you’ve performed your random act of kindness – thereby putting the onus onto someone else to participate.
So what things can you do to participate in Random Acts of Kindness Day? Suggestions include:
- Holding the door open;
- Helping someone load their car;
- Donating blood;
- Praising someone’s efforts;
- Help someone whose car has broken down; and
- Allowing someone to pass in line in front of you
If you’re truly stuck, there’s a whole Web site devoted to the task. There are still a few hours left in the day and you don’t want to miss out!
Or, perhaps, you could join my own personal counter-culture. A movement so hidden that I didn’t even realize it was a secret society. We call ourselves… wait for it, because I’m letting you in on a huge secret…
The Members of the Human Race.
There you have it. We’re this group of people that were brought up to be nice to people. I know, it’s shocking. Personally, I’ve held hundreds of doors open for people (both women AND men); I’ve helped little old ladies lift big, heavy boxes out of grocery carts and placed them in their trunk; and I even pulled over on the side of the 401 recently to make sure that the passengers in a car that suffered a blown tire were OK.
I know, I know! I did all this WITHOUT the aid of a Web site or holding off for a special day. I’m waiting for the Canonisation procedures to begin (I figure my incredible contributions to society will make up for that whole pesky Not-a-Catholic thing).
So how did I manage to gain entry into this super secret society? Was there hazing involved? Did I have to do some strange Mason-esque ceremony? Did any animals get sacrificed?
No. Entry was actually painfully simple. All it required was this: being brought up right.
My parents taught me to respect people. They taught me to be polite. And – here’s the kicker – they made it a part of my everyday life, so it never felt like a burden. In fact, I actually feel guilty when I can’t get to a door in time, or help someone who is struggling with carrying a load of boxes/groceries/books/etc.
And maybe it’s not in fashion anymore, but I’m trying to pass these ideals on to my kids. I walk on the outside of my wife and daughter when we’re on the street (positioning myself between cars and them); I make sure they say their pleases and thank yous; and I try to ensure they show their admiration and appreciation for others’ works and efforts.
You know what? It’s not hard. And it doesn’t require a day. In fact, despite the apparent need for acknowledgement that this Random Acts of Kindness Day is fulfilling, most of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s a part of who we’re supposed to be.
And that’s the point of my boycott. It’s not about criticizing those who are participating – and if they need recognition for every nice thing they do, then that’s their prerogative – but I figure if I don’t participate, then I can go on continuing to delude myself.
You see, I don’t want to think that we live in a world where politeness and courtesy is extraordinary. I don’t want to acknowledge that people are so self-centered that the only way they can bring themselves to help someone else is if there’s some sort of special recognition that comes with it.
I want to continue to believe there are people out there like me who hold doors because it’s the right thing to do. I want to believe that most people are caring and generous simply because they care about making someone else’s life a little easier. I want to believe that there’s absolutely nothing special or noteworthy about kindness – that it just is simply the way the world is.
And I want to believe that common courtesy is just that — common. It shouldn’t be something that’s considered extraordinary.
So in the end, you can have your Random Acts of Kindness Day, but forgive me if I don’t join in with all the patting-on-the-backs. I’ll be the silent curmudgeon recognizing “Isn’t This Something We Do Every Day” day.
Amen. To every last word. I had to laugh when I saw your point on guilt. I often find myself apologizing if my lunge to grab to shopping mall door for someone isn’t quite fast enough. Either that or I’ll stand there, Carlton-the-doorman-esque, as one person after another walks through a door that I’m holding. I’d feel tremendous guilt if I let the door close on anyone.
Never mind that I have to explain to our kids why most folks don’t say so much as a “thank you”. It is, after all, how my parents raised me, and how I’m trying to raise them. And global apathy be damned, they’ll be holding doors as a matter of subconscious behaviour, and they’ll be teaching their kids to do the same.
If only more of us saw this as normal. Good on you for laying it out as you have.
thanks for the chuckle…and some no nonsense common sense in a crazy, crazy world.