Not Random

“Practice random acts
of kindness.”
It’s reported Anne Herbert,
writer and peace activist,
wrote this first on a napkin
in a restaurant in 1982.
Her playful phrase developed into a whole movement.
Now there’s a foundation by that name.
There are books and T-shirts and websites.
We hear of drivers paying the tolls
for the cars in line behind them,
practicing kindness randomly.
Diners pay for others’ meals anonymously.
People clean snow off the autos of strangers.
These are serendipitous gestures,
filled with good feelings.
Beth Mcleod in her significant book Caregiving
guides our thoughts in another direction:
I submit that family caregivers are proof that we are, all of us, much more capable of goodness than we imagined: not by random acts of kindness but by very deliberate ones, thoughtful and consistent and true.
I profoundly agree.
While there’s a loveliness to random kindnesses,
there’s also a sense in which
these are easy kindnesses—
easy to practice, easy to enjoy.
The acts of kindness practiced by family caregivers,
by caregiving friends and neighbors,
are of an entirely different character.
These acts are, if anything, more inspiring
than the popularized random ones.
These caregiving kindnesses are not occasional
but ever so regular.
They’re not done impulsively but methodically,
not quickly but thoroughly.
They occur not once
but over and over and over again.
Many caregiving acts of kindness are done
when the caregiver is tried,
when they’re frustrated or anxious,
or when they would much rather
be doing something far different.
Plenty of these acts are completed
when the one receiving these kindnesses
may not realize what is happening,
or understand all the effort,
or appreciate the selfless dedication.
I agree with Beth Mcleod:
all these deliberate acts of kindness
by caregivers all around us—
including the one or ones in our own home—
are more significant, more noteworthy,
and ultimately more beneficial
than those random and haphazard ones
celebrated by the media in recent years.
I celebrate faithful, steady acts of kindness.
You know very well the kind I mean.

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