I think that it is safe to say that we are the most charitable around the holidays. It seems to be a time of year that brings out the best in some people, and really gets people thinking of those less fortunate. We tend to be more likely to volunteer our time, give donations, or help a stranger in need.
So why do we not have this charitable heart all year? For most of us, around the same time we take down our Christmas lights, we also stop making thinking of strangers a priority. Sure, there are exceptions, but if you ask anyone who works or lives in a place that relies on donations, they will tell you that their “best” time of year is the holidays.
The other exception to this generalization is when a tragedy occurs. I am thinking of one example in particular, although people do tend to rally when all kinds of disasters hit. After the terrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, someone had a brilliant idea. On top of all the donations and prayers, Ann Curry sent out a call for people to perform random acts of kindness, in honor of those who were killed. What started out as an idea for people to perform 20 random acts of kindness – one for each child, evolved into 26 random acts of kindness, to include the adults. The premise was simple: in the wake of so much sadness, put some good back out into the world. Do something nice for someone you don’t know; someone who may or may not “deserve” it.
Probably in large part to being a parent myself, the school shooting hit me especially hard. I latched onto the 26 Acts of Kindness idea and ran with it. I met other people who were working on their own list of 26 Acts, and felt a camaraderie of hope. Instead of dreading explaining to my son about tragedy, I looked forward to being able to teach him about kindness.
As these things tend to do, the movement ended when people fulfilled their lists or as time went on. But here’s the thing; while having a specific reason to do something nice for other people is fine, there’s no reason to stop. We should still be putting good out into the world. Getting complacent because we aren’t reminded daily of a reason to be charitable is not an excuse.
So, I thought I would remind you all. Not of tragedies and sadness, but of the need for some random acts of kindness. You never know whose day you’re going to brighten, or better. Putting good out into the world never hurts. And if we all get into the mindset to try to think of others and how we can be nice to them, for no reason at all, well, that’s the kind of community I want to live in.