Editorial: Why not practice random acts of kindness?

Jon Johnson File Photo: This the season to spread some holiday cheer.

No thank you or pat on back expected

Column By Walt Mares

Walt Mares: Walt Mares has been in journalism since 1976 and has covered Greenlee County since 1983.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are fast approaching. Many American newspapers and other publications will run editorials about the dangers of overindulging, whether it be consuming too much booze or food or buying things one cannot really afford.

Call them random acts of stupidity.

Let us instead examine and focus on the opposite – performing random acts of kindness. With only a very few exceptions, doing so does not have to cost a dime and can still exemplify the holiday spirit. People who perform such acts are not expecting angels to suddenly appear and trumpet those acts of kindness. Nor do they expect a pat on the back. It is enough for them to know in their hearts they may have somehow, even in the smallest way, lightened the burden of another of God’s children.

Waiters and waitresses often put up with more than any of us would consider tolerating from others. Many people are dismissive or outright rude to waitresses or waiters. Again, some customers perceive waiting on tables as being a lowly profession and waitresses are not deserving of much, if any, consideration or politeness. Sure, there may be a waitress here or there who should not be working with the public, but again, that person’s family may need every penny family members can bring in.

A smile, politeness, and a simple thank you to a waitress can go a long way. Go one step further and tip a few dollars when you pay your bill. Do the same if it is a to-go order.

This refers to restaurants and not fast food joints that as a rule do not allow employees to receive tips. Even so, you can at least smile, be polite and say a genuine thanks when you receive your food.

Let us look at something as simple as shopping carts. Shopping carts? Indeed, look at the shopping carts scatted all over parking lots, especially at big box stores. Someone has to gather them up and push or tow them to the store’s front so they will be conveniently available for shoppers. Who is it that performs this task? Employees who very likely earn at most a minimum wage. Do any of us ever stop and think of the strain and effort it takes to perform that particular duty?

Random acts of kindness can also involve being considerate of others. Take something as simple as returning shopping carts to collection points.

It may be that whatever a shopper’s station in life is, he or she sees the act of returning shopping carts to their rightful place as a “lowly” duty. Maybe a person is just lazy.

Put yourself in that cart collector’s place. You may come to the conclusion that many people are just plain inconsiderate or outright lazy. However, as a cart collector, you need the job and so you do what you have to do.

Maybe the collector is a high school kid earning some spending cash, Then again, perhaps his or her family is in bad shape financially and everyone in the family has to pitch in just to help pay rent and the light bill.

What would it take on the part of a shopper to walk, or waddle, a few yards to place the cart in the collection areas located throughout the parking lot? It would take only some thoughtfulness and a random act of kindness and keeping with the spirit of Christmas.

Random acts of kindness can be as precious, or perhaps even more significant than giving someone a present, and an expensive one at that, wrapped in pretty paper and decorated with ribbons.

Most important is to say a simple hello to an elderly person. It is that simple. In receiving that greeting it may be the highlight of that person’s day, to be acknowledged by another human being. Perhaps the recipient of that hello lives alone is a widow or widower and has little contact with other people.

A simple hello to a person of any age applies to a random act of kindness even if the reaction of the person being greeted is a strange look and no acknowledgment of the greeting.

This is not to say that a person must greet everyone one meets. By no means. Go by what you feel when you see a person. Compliment and congratulate a young couple with a baby in arms or in a stroller and mean it when you say it.

Compliment an elderly lady on her hairstyle and mean it when you say it.

Keep in mind the simple act of a smile and a hello can make a difference in someone else’s life.

There are far more ways to perform acts of random kindness than those of which we write. The bottom line is that no matter what the situation, or the time of year, such acts reflect on a person’s true character. Remember that performing acts of kindness are free. There are no obligations or any price to pay.

They involve anonymity and no expectation of a thank you or reciprocation. As we have said, these random acts of kindness are performed because of what is in a person’s mind, heart, and spirit.

They just happen to strongly personify what the coming seasons are supposed to be all about.

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