Random act of kindness

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A random act of kindness is a nonpremeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world.[1]

The phrase "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" was written by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982. It was based on the phrase "random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty".[2] Herbert's book "Random Acts of Kindness" was published in February 1993 speaking about true stories of acts of kindness.

Examples of events or groups

  • The Jewish concept of a mitzvah is used colloquially to mean a good deed or an act of kindness. Judaism teaches that "the world is built on kindness." Kabbalistic teaching sees kindness as emerging from the first of seven Divine emotional attributes; to be effective kindness must be balanced and considered,[3] while mercy is also for the undeserving. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson told reporters that to bring the Moshiach sooner, people should "add in acts of goodness and kindness."[4]
  • Caffè sospeso is a tradition in the working-class cafés of Naples where a person who has experienced good luck financially pays for two coffees, but receives and consumes only one, the second being left until a person enquires later whether a sospeso is available.
  • In 2006, the Free Hugs Campaign was made popular by a music video on YouTube.
  • The BBC 1 London News ran a News item entitled 'Hampers at the Ready' following 'The Kindness Offensive' event on the 22 December 2008, which saw the group work with seventy volunteers to hand out over thirty-five tonnes of presents to the public at random, as well as many other charities and community groups. The Kindness Offensive suggests that their Christmas event on the 22 December 2008 was the UK's largest ever random act of kindness.[citation needed]
  • An Australian TV-show called Random Acts of Kindness, on Channel 9, shows hosts Karl Stefanovic, Scott Cam and Simmone Jade Mackinnon giving gifts to people they identify as heroes.[5]
  • HelpOthers.org is the home of Smile Cards and a portal of kindness stories, ideas, and online groups. It allows people to send random notes of kindness to others.[6]
  • 2012: The Newton Project attempted to quantify the benefits of the Random Act of Kindness concept in order to motivate people to perform additional acts of kindness.[7]
  • On 14 November 2012 an NYPD officer, Lawrence DePrimo, was photographed giving socks and a pair of boots he had purchased for a bare-footed homeless man. The photograph later went viral.[8]
  • Started in February 2014, the Feed the Deed campaign has inspired over 10,000 random acts of kindness around the world.[9]

In film and literature

  • 1993: Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty, a 1993 children's book published by Volcano Press and authored by Anne Herbert, Margaret Paloma Pavel, and illustrated by Mayumi Oda, with a 20th-anniversary edition published in 2014 by New Village Press that includes a foreword penned by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
  • 2002: Join Me is a book written by humorist Danny Wallace; in which he tells of the cult he started by accident, the group's purpose is to encourage members (called Joinees and collectively known as the KarmaArmy) to perform random acts of kindness, particularly on Fridays which are termed "Good Fridays". Wallace has also published a book called Random Acts of Kindness: 365 Ways to Make the World a Nicer Place.
  • 2007: The film Evan Almighty ends with God telling the main character, Evan, that the way to change the world is by doing one Act of Random Kindness ("ARK") at a time.
  • 2009: Karen McCombie's book The Seventeen Secrets of the Karma Club revolves around two girls who (inspired by their favourite film Amélie) start up their 'Karma Club', the intention of which, is to do random acts of kindness anonymously.

Negative Effects

There have been several documented cases when random acts of kindness failed to produce good outcomes and have even worsened the situation. For example, in the case of the 2014–15 floods in Southeast Asia and South Asia in Malaysia, random acts of donations were not reaching their intended targets, rather being strewn about becoming streetside rubbish that further complicated planning, cleanup, and relief efforts.[10] Additionally, people claiming to help others randomly took selfies on social media,[11] sparking a disaster tourism frenzy of I was there helping,[12] whereby actual relief vehicles were delayed by the excessively clogged traffic, additionally there was some theft of relief supplies by pilferers pretending to be among the helping.

An explanation for such negative results is that those acts were coordinated rather than random with people who are experts in the task with a bigger picture understanding of needs, resulting in unintended consequences[citation needed].

See also


  1. "101 Easy Ideas For Random Acts Of Kindness". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2016-02-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "the origins of 'random kindness and senseless acts of beauty'". Improvised Life. Retrieved 2016-02-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. http://www.inner.org/education/educ33.htm
  4. http://www.chabad.org/therebbe/livingtorah/player_cdo/aid/490071/jewish/Acts-of-Goodness-and-Kindness.htm and more generally, http://www.chabad.org/search/keyword_cdo/kid/10740/jewish/Chessed-Acts-of-Kindness.htm
  5. Random Acts of Kindness (06/06/2009)
  6. "Web site rewards inner beauty". CNN. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. WBRZ News, 5 April 2012
  8. Goodman, J. David (28 November 2012). "Photo of Officer Giving Boots to Barefoot Man Warms Hearts Online". New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "5 Priceless Ways These People Made Someone Else's Day Just A Little Bit Brighter". Huffington Post. 5 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. http://news.asiaone.com/news/malaysia/random-acts-kindness-hindering-flood-relief-efforts
  11. http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/when-helping-flood-victims-dont-take-selfies
  12. http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/disaster-tourists-throng-flood-devastated-areas-malaysia-20150106