by Kathie England

Random Acts of Kindness

When my sister, Judy Caforio, shared how she had responded to the concerns of friends who felt uncomfortable with my request for individuals to take “small political steps,” I invited her to share the wonderful idea she provided to shift their perspective about “small political steps.” Judy graciously accepted my invitation to be the guest writer for this March 2017 post of My 1000 Small Steps project updates.
I invite you to consider Judy’s perspective, especially if you’ve also struggled taking “small political steps.”

My sister, Kathie, gave the family her project My 1000 Steps to Profound Change over the Christmas holidays. This was her strategy for coping with the new administration and dealing with our incredible devastation. When I shared the concept with friends, I found that though they were equally as devastated and frustrated, they were also intimidated by the idea of taking political steps.

I tweaked the idea just a bit deciding that political steps might mean making calls to senators and representatives, but it also could mean finding a way to make the world a kinder place at a time when many of us aren’t feeling particularly kind.

When I taught fourth grade, I ran a “Random Acts of Kindness” unit…RAKs, attempting to teach elementary school kids that they could do something every day to impact someone’s life. Saying “thank you” or “excuse me” or “please” were all RAKs that were underused and very appreciated in the adult world. Complimenting someone for something they did or said was a way to spread kindness.

We journaled daily. Kids who initially were not able to come up with a single RAK were filling pages and smiling as they wrote about their experiences.

The climate in our classroom changed. And though we didn’t change the world…there was less bullying with my kids…there was an attitude of nice that started to prevail.

Moms wrote and called to tell me that for the first time their kid thanked them for a delicious dinner and clean clothes. One dad said his kid thanked him for driving him to school…and that had never happened. Profound, really!

I figured if it worked for fourth graders, maybe in my little corner of the world it might have an impact with my adult friends. I suggested they keep track of their steps…political, RAKs, any act that makes the world a better place.

The response was delightful…this wasn’t intimidating…all of us can say “thank you” and compliment someone once a day, particularly on those news conference days, rally days, cabinet appointment days, and even executive order days. These are challenging times…no question…but I really do believe, “It’s better to light one candle, than to curse the darkness.”

One of my friends took the idea into his grandson’s first grade class. They discussed the idea of RAKs, then drew pictures of themselves doing some Random Act of Kindness. Pretty wonderful!

Princess Diana said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”

Parade Magazine recently encouraged readers to start a kindness revolution and pass out kindness cards when they see someone who’s been kind. There is in fact a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation site at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/ and readers can post their good deeds.

I’m trying to do an RAK every day. I encourage you to take the challenge as well. Rabbi Harold Kushner said, “When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.”

Kathie quotes JFK in the introduction to her project, “One person can make a difference. Everyone should try.”

“Nothing less than the future of our planet is at stake!”

I want to thank Judy for her act of kindness in sharing this idea first with her friends and now with those who have joined My 1000 Small Steps project.