• Random Acts of Kindness

    kindness1The world can be a pretty cruel place and people tend to be self-consumed at times. Random acts of kindness are rare and yet over the weekend, I was the recipient of two such acts. However, one was a little less random than the other and the kindness of one might have been more self-consumed than the other as well.

    In chronological order, the first “Random Act of Kindness” occurred at my workplace. I work part-time in retail to add to the vast fortune I make blogging. While at my retail establishment, I found myself surrounded by about fifteen young teenage girls with one adult woman at their side. I asked them if I could help them find anything and the adult told me that they were actually here to help me.

    The adult prompted one of the young girls to speak and she whispered out that they were part of a youth group from a local Presbyterian Church giving out “Random Acts of Kindness.” The adult prompted another young girl to hand me a small ziplock snack bag of candy with a note inside. The note explained that I was the recipient of a “Random Act of Kindness” from the Church and offered me “blessings” and the Church’s address, phone number, and website.

    I thought about politely informing them of my atheism, but I was at work after all. In retrospect, I think I should have. In any case, a co-worker I am friendly with also received the “kindness” and he was a little disturbed by it. To my knowledge, he isn’t even an atheist and was freaked out by the encounter. I was less freaked out and more saddened for the young girls who clearly were uncomfortable with the whole exercise.

    It’s a great marketing ploy though. They get to advertise their church and push their beliefs in everyone’s faces for the cost of a few bags of candy. All while making it appear like they are being altruistic. It also has the added benefit of continuing the indoctrination of these young children and using them to help sell the product. Diabolical!

    But then there was this other Random Act of Kindness… The next night, I was driving home with my family and hit a huge pothole. My tire was flattened. I pulled over (along with about a dozen or so other people who hit the same pothole with the similar and/or the same results). It turns out that the rim on my wheel was busted and there was no way I was driving it another half-hour to forty-five minutes home. Fortunately, there was a tire repair place right near where we all pulled over. Unfortunately, they were closed. But they did have a key drop.

    The problem was that it was now 10pm and we were a good distance from home. If I dropped off the car at this very conveniently placed tire shop, we would have to pay a fortune for a taxi or half a fortune and a handful of bus rides for public transportation. This is where the kindness comes in. There was a mother and her college aged daughter who went out to dinner. The daughter’s car hit the same pothole I did, but the mother’s car was able to avoid it. They happened to live a few towns from where we live and the mother very kindly offered to drive us home.

    Guess what religion she was? I have no idea because she wasn’t pushing her religion in exchange for her kindness. In fact, she wasn’t pushing anything. We had a friendly conversation about our respective evenings and mutually complained about the potholes. The mother did mention that she had “hippy days” because the related to our conversation. But their kindness was genuine in that they expected nothing in return and they were pushing nothing with their kindness except of course for their kindness.

    They might have been fundamentalist Christians for all I know. But they had to have seen my atheist bumper stickers on my car so I doubt it. They might have been atheists themselves. I don’t know and that is how it should be. They were being kind for kindness sake and not as a means to push their beliefs.

    Now it is your turn. Maybe if we all took the time to do a kindness… a real kindness, the world would me a little bit better. Don’t tell people you are an atheist, but don’t hide it either. If it comes up in conversation, don’t feel you have to run from that. But if it doesn’t come up in conversation, don’t bring it up. Just do a kindness for kindness sake.

    Now the tough part – don’t do the random act of kindness in a non-random fashion. In other words, don’t go out with the intent on doing an act of kindness. Just go out into the world and if you see someone who could use some help and you can give that help, do so. Then do that all the time. That’s called being an awesome person.

    Category: featuredHumanismMissionariesPersonalPhilosophysecularism

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

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    1. I taught my son about random acts when he was eleven and twelve on those two Christmases. On those two Christmases, we enclosed two hundred dollars in a Christmas card signed “Pay it forward when you are able”. On the first Christmas, my son stepped out of our minivan and gave the envelope to a young lady coming out of a food bank with her child, and said, “Merry Christmas”, and returned to the van. We heard her yelp as we were driving away. The second, it was a driving snow storm, and we saw a mother walking into the wind with her under dressed (for the weather) teen son as we were on the way to the food bank. My boy said, “Dad, stop the car”, got out and handed her the envelope, said “Merry Christmas”, and got back in the car. That same yelp when she opened the card. His mother and I divorced not long after, and it didn’t become the tradition I had hoped. BUT, last year, I found something out. He’s thirty-four today, and he and his wife of two years have started doing the same thing.

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