You may have missed the memo, so allow us to be of random service. This is Random Acts of Kindness Week, the annual "holiday week" of the World Kindness Movement. And if you doubt there's a world kindness movement, check out the many Web sites: Smile Korea, the Canadian Kindness Club, Kindness Scotland, Britain's Campaign for Courtesy and a dozen others.
The idea is that by performing good deeds on the fly, people can trigger feelings of hope and goodness that will ripple out and lift the human spirit. The "Kindness Revolution" even lists targets: kind acts to yourself, to colleagues, to the community and to the earth. Among suggested "acts" are displays of affection, laughter, compliments, listening, favors and solitude.
The whole enterprise can be traced back to Canada in 1994 when a random act of violence took the life of a young mother. Colleen Ring, a local teacher, was inspired to start a Kids for Kindness program in response. It soon blossomed and expanded into a global movement.
We're on board with it. When it comes to stressing goodwill and kindness, what's not to like?
But we urge people to go the extra step.
Random acts of kindness are worthwhile, but they don't always have staying power. We urge people to also think in terms of commitment and follow-through. Sometimes acts of kindness that are deliberate and preconceived can do more than add a beam of light to someone's day, they can change a life.
Getting involved in the problems of other people is not always pleasant. Having to work at something day after day is not always rewarding. But the good that comes from committing to people for the long run, not just in random moments of goodwill, has its own rewards. And the payoff can be even greater.
Random acts of kindness are much needed. The more the better.
But so are carefully planned and targeted acts of charity and caring.
We urge readers to fight the battle against despair on both those fronts, beginning this week.