Thoughtful Kindness

Bumper stickers. Now that’s free speech. Which I love. But that doesn’t mean I love all bumper stickers. Sure, some are cute, funny, occasionally brilliant. Others are just crude.

But my least favorite bumper sticker might surprise you. The bumper strip that ticks me off the most reads:

“Practice Random Acts Of Kindness And Senseless Acts Of Beauty.”

Now, most folks who put this one on their car are nice. They’re thinking about “kindness” and “beauty” — so, I’m certainly not gonna say anything if I see them at the market.

But . . . why waste kindness by doing it randomly? The random implies heedlessness, thoughtlessness. How much better to be provident in kindness, thinking ahead and in context.

Should the purse-snatcher really benefit as much or more from our kindness as the little girl in the neighborhood who is always helping us with our groceries?

Should our lazy, good-for-nothing brother-in-law get what time we have for kindness or should it go to someone who will take our kindness and turn it around into even more kindness?

Now, I’m not suggesting anyone be unkind to anyone. But precisely because practicing kindness is so important — it’s the glue that holds a friendly society together — it is worth taking the time to recognize and reward good behavior. Rather than bad. Or just sticking the dial on “random.”

And how can beauty ever be senseless?

How about a new bumper sticker: “Practice Thoughtful Acts of Kindness and Sensible Acts of Beauty”?

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

This installment of Common Sense first aired in November 2006.

3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Dec
    31
    10:24
    AM
    james Dixon

    Paul:

    I enjoy your columns (including this one). But you miss the point of the underpinning of “random acts of kindness” by focusing on the recipient rather than the giver. “… what time we have for kindness …” is really a peculiar comment for a Christian isn’t it?

    Kindness is a spirit of the soul that often takes a “lifetime” to develop. As such, it is a continuous sense of being that has no time constraints.

    Thought and planning are NOT a requirement for the giver. Kindness is the essence of who that person is (or wishes to become).

    The “random acts of kindness” are reinforcement for the giver. They are (or should be) the sine qua non for spiritual development.

    Jim

  2. Dec
    31
    11:53
    AM
    drrik

    Random acts of kindness, that are then for the benefit of the giver, are argueably inconsiderate or even cruel for the recipient, in that they are bestowed independent of the actions of the recipient. Actions that prevent a person from exposure to consequences of their actions are perhaps even worse for they deny a person the opportunity to learn and grow and modify their behavior and to not repeat behavior that is not healthy or useful.
    Bad enough that we have the government doing it.

  3. Dec
    31
    12:05
    PM
    John Mattacola

    Hello Paul,

    I wish to Thank You for all your columns. You are one of the few emails I allow through. I enjoy your thoughts on freedom.

    To Jim Dixon above…
    Wow! Great definitions and explanantions!!! I hope you don’t mind if I capture that text for future reading and studying. I think I’ll share it at tonight’s meeting…

    Thanks Much and A Happy New Year to All !!!

    John Mattacola in Sioux Falls

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