The first reference I had ever heard using the term “random acts of kindness” was in a movie I saw many years ago, “Pay It Forward“. In the movie, a young boy encourages others to perform random acts of kindness after his teacher did something very nice for him. Part of the project is not only the act of kindness but for the person to also “pay it forward” and encourage the person involved to also repeat the action for someone else. The idea is that this will make the world a better place one person at a time. I was amazed at the concept and loved the movie, but years later when I was teaching inner city school, it was announced that there would be an assembly. The speaker was one of the directors with the Pay It Forward organization. I discovered that the organization worked with the students to encourage kindness and sharing through random acts of kindness. I had the overwhelming reaction of what a wonderful idea not only the organization is but that they would target inner city schools where often fighting and bullying is common place.
I remember acts of kindness that have been bestowed on me through my life many were by friends and family, but the ones from people you don’t know and are so unexpected are pressed into your memory. Once when I had to take a leave of absence from my teaching job, a church in the community left me a gift bag and an encouraging note saying that thing would get better, just have faith. I did not know anyone in this church nor had ever attended their services. I still carry the note in my wallet because I want to be reminded of the feeling it gave me.
Other examples of random kindness can be found through volunteerism. There are many volunteers that unselfishly give their time on a regular basis to encourage helping others. This includes people who volunteer in food banks, churches, the Red Cross, the United Way and many others. the important thing to remember is that everyone can take part and it does not cost anything to participate. Kindness encourages the world to become a better place.
Please visit the Random Acts of Kindness blogspot:
Many of the traditional holidays are recognized and celebrated regularly year in and year out since they are etched in our memory from the time we were children. One observance I was not familiar with is International Day of Families that is celebrated on May 15.
The holiday recognizes the importance of family and our personal relationships and encourages spending quality time with those we care for. The General Assembly of the United Nations created the holiday in 1992. It is a global observance and not a public holiday. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Advancing Social Integration and Intergenerational Solidarity.”
International Day of Families is celebrated with a range or events that are organized at local, national, and international levels including workshops, seminars and policy meeting for public officials; exhibitions and organized discussions to raise awareness of the annual theme; educational sessions for children and young people; and the launch of campaigns for public policies to strengthen and support family units.
The recognition of International Day of Families helps us realize the importance of our family and personal relationships and the priority that they should have in our lives.
I can remember as a child always trying to think of something I could give my mother for Mother’s Day. Before I had an allowance or worked a part-time job, I would try to think of something I could make her or would hunt for a pretty flower in the yard. I always came up with something and she was always grateful no matter how simple the gift. When I became a mother she would give me a present also. I felt this was underserved but she told me that I was a mother now too and I needed to be remembered. As the years past and she became not only a grandmother but a great-grandmother, she expressed complete joy at the mere mention of any little story or glimpse of a photo of the great-grandchildren. When she became ill and was confined to a nursing home one of her most prized possessions was a picture of my granddaughter, her great-granddaughter, 6 months old at the time. She kept the photo right beside her on the table where she could constantly see it. She became very ill after this and her last Mother’s Day and I once again was trying to think of something I could give her. This time the selection was more difficult trying to choose something that she could use in the nursing home. I chose a sunrise cactus plant that was full of beautiful fuchsia blooms. I knew she would love it but sadly enough she was not conscious enough to acknowledge it that Mother’s Day. She passed away about two weeks later. Mother’s Day seems empty now but I hold in my heart something she told me that I will never forget. She told me that I was a good mother to my children and she was very proud of that. Assuring me she told me she knew this was true because I read books to my children before they went to bed each night. She apologized that she never did that for me, saying that no one did for her and so she did not realize that was how you became a good mother. I am sure there are many other qualifications women need to have to be qualified as a good mother, but the fact that my own mother recognized and put me in this category is of great satisfaction to me this and every Mother’s Day. I still have the sunrise cactus plant I gave her and after 7 years it finally bloomed again. I think it is because my mother is looking down from heaven and smiling in acknowledgment of me becoming an author and illustrator of children’s books in the same year, and that I am painting and working on my art as she encouraged me to as a child.
In this fast changing world with boundaries quickly dissolving with the internet that enable us to develop international friendships and jet airplanes that make it possible to travel to other countries in a matter of hours, racial diversity is becoming common place in most cities of average size and more evident in larger ones. Part of a parents responsibility in raising their children is to be able to adopt proper social skills to help them handle any situation that may be presented to them both as a young child, teenager, and then as a young adult.
What are some the proper ways to approach teaching a child to be open minded and tolerant?
1. Encourage your child to think for himself and form his own opinions while still being respectful of others. Ask for his/her opinion on situations. What do you think about this and then ask them why. If their opinion is stated in a cruel manner, correct it immediately, remind the child that it is OK to have his/her own opinion but others might think differently and that is OK also.
2. Start teaching respect at a very early age. It is one of the most valuable traits a child can possess and will carry through to adulthood. Read books to your child that illustrate diversity in race, religion, gender and economic status. Explain that every person is special and unique in their own way.
3. Set a good example. All children are born innocent. Make sure you practice what you preach. Children learn at a very early age to mimic their parents. They become a product of their environment.