On TV and online I see so many, many, MANY stories of horrific acts of cruelty committed by human beings on other human beings, other living creatures, and on this beautiful planet. One act after another of hatred, abuse, violence, injustice, intolerance, and on and on. How sad that we even have a need for the term “hate crimes.” The global suffering that results from all of this breaks my heart, and pierces my soul.
Chaos, fear, doubt, confusion, hatred, anger, vicious tribalism, etc. are all around us. So much negative energy, so much “darkness.” It often feels really overwhelming—how can I, one person, make a difference against vast corrupt governments, money- and influence-rich corporations, other powerful entities and people, and other “tribes” so diametrically opposed in beliefs that we almost don’t speak the same language?
Well, call me Pollyanna, but I have always believed in Humanity. That we are inherently good. That ultimately, the majority of us respond to “the appeals to our better angels.” Even if it takes some time and is another one of those (damn!) processes that impatient Aries me hates.
Even now, in the midst of this pandemic, I believe that the vast majority of ordinary people really want to do something—anything—that will contribute to alleviating the suffering or mitigating “social distancing.” If you look carefully in the news, there are, in fact, many “Good News” stories along these lines. You yourself may already be doing good deeds. I’ve heard from several of you doing such things as using this global “pause” to write Letters of Gratitude, and contributing part of your Stimulus Check to a Food Bank.
But I think we have to take it much, much further. I think we need an EXPONENTIAL increase in the level of such deeds, in the magnitude of “Light” we generate to counteract all of that “darkness.” We need to lift the roof off of this reality!! And it doesn’t have to be hard, burdensome, or complicated. We don’t need special tools, skills, or knowledge. And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money.
So what is this “simple,” easy answer? . . .
Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.
This is based on a phrase written on a restaurant placemat in 1982 by Anne Herbert specifically as a reversal of “random violence and senseless acts of cruelty.”1 Her words have inspired countless endeavors, for example, an annual Random Acts of Kindness Day (in February), the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation2, and kindness.org3.
Sound too simple and simplistic? Maybe too “airy-fairy”? Well, ever hear of the “butterfly effect”:
“. . . the origin of chaos theory and most commonly referenced in pop culture in relation to time travel, it’s the idea that one small act has the ability to exponentially change how history unfolds over the course of time.”4
What if random acts of kindness work this way? What if one act of kindness ripples out and out and out until there’s a huge wave? How glorious would it be to have a HUGE groundswell of such kind and loving acts?
Well you can contribute to that groundswell. Consider doing the following:
Take the challenge:
Commit to 30 Days of Kindness.
Everyday, for 30 days, do at least one “act of kindness or senseless act of beauty.” It can be large or small. In your household, family, circle of friends, community, town, or global. Anything, anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Although even a modified stay-at-home situation makes it difficult to Pay It Forward with $$, for example, pay for somebody’s coffee or groceries, there are so many other possibilities. Check out “75 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas: Examples of Nice Things To Do”5, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and kindness.org noted above (links in footnotes), google for other lists of suggestions, or just get creative—actively look for actions you can take. Maybe submit a Comment below for an act of kindness that is especially apropros to the times we live in.
But I do have some guidelines you may want to consider. No matter how large or small, have your acts of kindness be:
For example, before the pandemic, I made a game out of always saying “Hi, how are you?” to restaurant servers or store salespersons, taking the time to really look them in the eyes and make a person-to-person connection, however brief; or complimenting a stranger on their earrings, or colorful scarf, or even their nail polish color. But I only did this if I truly liked the earrings, scarf, or whatever so it was spontaneous and authentic. And you might want to be careful that a compliment is appropriate, for example, if you’re a man complimenting a women’s blouse, or some vice versa situation that could be misconstrued. Which brings me to the following . . .
I purposely entitled this blog post “Practice-ing . . .” because I want to emphasize the meaning of “practice”:
“perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.”—Lexico by Oxford University
Sometimes your acts of kindness will be effective, sometimes not. Sometimes you won’t know if they have any result at all. But you need to keep trying. Everyday. And if you miss a day or two, or your enthusiasm wanes, reinvigorate it by remembering “What this is all about”6: a new path for Humanity. And just keep practice-ing.
So what does all of this have to do with “Your Path to Oneness”? Well, the sub-title or “tagline” on every page of this website is “Learning the soul you are.” In this instance, I urge you to BE the essence of the soul you are: You are a Being of immense Light. You have a spark of the Divine within you. And your body is made of the same stuff as the stars. Use that body (and maybe a bit of time, effort, or $$) to spread your Light around.
You can do this! YOU (and I) can shift the entire path of Humanity by simply doing “Random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”
1 Random act of kindness (Wikipedia entry)
2 Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website
3 kindness.org website
4 The Exponential Impact of Random Acts of Kindness article by Megan Nicole O’Neal
5 75 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas: Examples of Nice Things To Do website
6 “What this is all about” with video
Love you and what you are doing, it’s inspiring!
This is much needed in this ever-changing and increasingly fearful world. Thank you for sharing and including me! I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts and writing.
Nancy, thanks for the post. I find myself getting angry at the negativity and anger I see these days. Your words will give me something to think about and to be positive and hopefully shift things in the opposite direction.
Thanks, Marty. Stay tuned: more on this in the next post next week! 😀
Great post, Nancy! Informative, interesting and also practical. Thank you!