In recent times there has been a spate of initiatives that have at the heart of them the same basic idea – Random acts of kindness. The comedian, Danny Wallace did it with his ‘Join Me’ campaign and the subsequent development of the Karma Army. So to the church here in the UK with Love Life, Live Lent.
In some ways, I find these initiatives rather inspirational.
But I also find them rather saddening.
At one level, they remind how good human beings can be. It brings a smile to my face to think that somewhere, someone is encountering a random act of kindness from a complete stranger. But on reflection, it is also a sad indictment on our society.
What bothers is this: How have we ended up in a place where kindness has become something that stands out as a random act?
The very fact that you can even have acts of kindness that are random, haphazard and indiscriminate, suggests to me that there is little, if any expectation that we can live in a world where people are kind on a day-to-day basis, or that being kind is a perfectly normal and appropriate way live your life.
Kindness is one of the most ordinary, human and humane things in the world. Therefore, it should be as pervasive as humanity itself. Kindness should be a norm that is at the heart of who we are and so at the heart of our communities. There shouldn’t be the need for isolated moments when kindness breaks into our world.
For me, ‘random kindness’ is an oxymoron. They are two words that don’t go together.
To call ourselves human is to recognise our spirituality and bring to mind that we are creatures called to reflect the image of the One who created us. Which means that kindness must be central to who we are, both in terms of our individuality as persons, and within our relatedness as family, community and society – not a bolt on extra that occasionally and randomly appears.