“Today I will commit one random act of senseless kindness — will you?”
Have you ever seen that bumper sticker? Better yet have you ever been the recipient of a random act of senseless kindness?
Last week I was at the IGA picking up a couple of things. When I got to the cashier, my bill tallied $7.06. I checked in my wallet and pulled out a five dollar bill and then a toonie from my pocket. For only a second, I looked at the $20 I had, thinking it was too bad I had to break it for six cents.
In that very brief moment of thought, and a quick look at the young woman waiting for my payment, the man behind set six pennies down in front of me. He didn’t say a word — just smiled and motioned for me to take the change as a gift.
It was a very small gesture of kindness from a man I didn’t know, but made a huge impression on me. How often have I stood in line waiting impatiently for an elderly person to go through their change purse and pull out two pennies? What a difference it made on the rest of my day when that man treated me with a random act of kindness.
It was several years ago now that Chuck Wall, a human relations instructor at Bakersfield College in California, was watching the news on television. A cliché from the broadcaster stuck in his mind. “Another random act of senseless violence.”
Wall got an idea. In class, he assigned his students to do something kind and out of the ordinary to help a stranger. Then they were to write a paper on what happened. Wall also thought up a bumper sticker for the students to create and market. It read, “Today I will commit a random act of senseless kindness-will you?”
A bank and union donated money to have the bumper stickers printed. Then the students sold them and donated the money to a local Braille center.
One student paid his mother’s utility bill as his act of kindness. Another bought thirty blankets from a thrift store and gave them out to homeless people who were sleeping under a bridge.
The idea began to take on a life of its own. Local police purchased the bumper stickers and pasted them on all 113 patrol cars. Pastors, teachers and business professionals began to talk about doing “one random act of senseless kindness” every day.
Chuck Wall’s reaction was, “I had no idea that this would erupt like it has. I had no idea our community was in such need of something positive!”
If we watch the news at night or read the morning paper, we can very easily become discouraged by the negativity and darkness of our world. How refreshing it is to see the ray of light that a simple act of kindness can bring to our day — even six pennies can make a huge difference in a stranger’s life.
Jesus said it a long time before Chuck Wall, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
We call it the Golden Rule for a good reason.