This is how beauty can grow. In 1982, Peace Activist Anne Herbert had a thought. She was in a restaurant and had nothing to write on so she wrote her thought on a napkin – Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.
You can always to turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and read ugly details of a random act of violence or senseless act of cruelty. Like a bomb on an airplane, a hit and run driver or someone’s shop window smashed. Things smashed up, hatred spewed. Maybe Anne had read one of those stories that make your heart sink. Maybe she wanted to put something back, to turn things around. Here is what she started with that napkin according to Wikipedia -
A random act of kindness is a purportedly selfless act performed by a person or persons wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual or in some cases even an animal. There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happier. Either spontaneous or planned in advance, random acts of kindness are encouraged by various communities.
It’s something that you, yes you reading this article today, probably do without even knowing it. Listening when you don’t have to. Helping when you are too tired to. Making someone laugh when you don’t feel like laughing. Checking in with the girl on the check out to find out how her day is going. Little things that no one will probably know you did or maybe even care. But you do them anyway, because you have beauty inside of you just waiting to get out.
Quiet kindness. A small act of beauty. So how does beauty grow? From that napkin came several movements and a critically acclaimed movie called ‘Pay it Forward’. The movie, released in October 2000, charts the ideas and actions of an 11 year old boy whose social studies teacher gives the class an assignment – to devise and put into action a plan that will change the world for the better.
On October 26, 2006 Oprah Winfrey gave her audience a challenge to Pay it Forward, giving 300 audience guests $ 1,000 USD on a debit card and a camcorder to record the acts of kindness they did. The rules of the challenge were very specific, the money had to be spent within one week and could only be used to help charitable organizations or an individual person but not a relative.
In April 2009 Pay it Forward made its way to Craigslist and YouTube. A simple Craigslist posting said “I can help you with groceries, give you a ride if you need one…”
So from a mustard seed came a mighty tree. So be encouraged, celebrate small beginnings. And thank you. Thank you for all the random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty you have performed over the years. All the times you put more beauty back into the world than someone else had taken out. Thank you.
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