EDITORIAL: Why should kindness have to be random?

Last Friday, Random Act of Kindness Day was celebrated in more than 250 communities across Canada, including the greater Parksville Qualicum Beach region.

The annual event, held the first Friday in November each year, is pre-scheduled and co-ordinated by community foundations throughout the country, so perhaps it does not hew too closely to the literal definition of “random.”

But its organizers have the kindness part down pat.

The idea is not only to share a kind act or word with a stranger, but to spread awareness of the positive impacts our actions — even seemingly small, innocuous acts — can have on those around us.

The Parksville-Qualicum Community Foundation plotted this year’s RAK day, its third annual, by setting up a working group and enlisting the support and involvement of students and local businesses.

PQCF co-chair Wendy Carmichael said it’s an idea people of all ages can relate to, then proved it by using Kwalikum Secondary School students to deliver hand-coloured greeting cards created by Qualicum Beach Elementary students to seniors in care residences in Qualicum Beach.

Area businesses, ranging from grocers to coffee shops to spas and massage therapists and credit union branches, each offered random treats, drinks or services to clients and even passers-by.

The cynic may pass that off as basic business promotion, but while the effectiveness of a marketing campaign may be easier to quantify, the ripple effect of recipients “paying forward” an act of kindness is just as real.

How many of those people left and passed along that goodwill to those they met throughout their day?

Many of us have probably heard a variation of the story of a person pulling up to the drive-through window of a diner or coffee shop to find that the person ahead in line has already paid for his or her order.

The idea may be to spark the recipient to reciprocate with the next person. But even if that doesn’t happen, the beneficiary may go out of the way to perform some other act of kindness at another point, perhaps not even being aware of it at the time.

That’s how an annual, one-day promotion can lead to a genuinely random act of kindness.

If enough of these acts pile up, spreading and overlapping through society, they cross a tipping point and cease to be random anymore.

At that point they simply become kindness. And that something we could all use a little more of.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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