Random Act of Kindness Day rolls around at the beginning of September every year and while I certainly applaud doing nice things for others, it’s still slightly awkward for me.
This is because I’m often the unwitting recipient of people’s ‘random acts of kindness.’
Several times a week I politely decline offers of help and I’m always puzzled. I’m (in my mind) quite competently going about my business when someone stops to ask if I need help or offer a word of encouragement. I’m seen as someone to be pitied; someone who would benefit from a little extra kindness to ease the burden of my existence. I think this stems from a dated perception where disabled people are the most helpless and hopeless in our society. When in reality, getting by in a world not designed for you tends to make you rather resilient.
So when there’s a day dedicated to helping others you’ll forgive me for being a little sceptical.'
“Sit Down and Plan How You’re Going to Improve the Lives of Others Less Fortunate than yourself by Strategically & Sustainably Changing the Way You Operate in the World (long-term) Day,” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
Let’s all plan to do one random act of kindness on one particular day, slap on a hashtag and post for all our friends to see (and their friends of course, hell blow off the privacy settings all together; everyone needs to know about this!).
In case some of us are having trouble coming up with a single idea of how to be unexpectedly kind the NZ Herald have helpfully created a top-ten list of good deeds.
One of these suggests ‘texting a friend who hasn’t heard from you in a while.’ Advice to live by, for sure; I know a text from a friend for no other reason but to say they’re thinking of me, definitely makes my day. But I don’t see that as a random act of kindness, rather a result of the special bond we have. So, if you decide on this particular day to text someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while, is that genuine. Would the time not be better spent examining why you’ve waited for RAK day to reach out and make a conscious effort to up your friend game.
Of course, it is possible to perform genuinely random acts that have the potential to make someone’s day; ‘shouting someone a coffee’ or ‘complimenting a stranger’ could be just the lift someone needed. But planning ahead to do something like this on one day sort of defeats the purpose and I wonder if we should instead work to create a habit of randomly doing something or saying something nice on a regular basis.
I’d prefer a little more critical thinking; while “Sit Down and Plan How You’re Going to Improve the Lives of Others Less Fortunate than yourself by Strategically & Sustainably Changing the Way You Operate in the World (long-term) Day,” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I get the feeling RAK Day is designed to make the onetime Samaritan feel smug more than to have any genuine impact on the recipient.
That said, I’m going out for brunch at a very fancy restaurant on Saturday, if you see me, feel free to pay my bill.