A movement encouraging “random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” began in the 1980’s in response to a series of events that were characterized as “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.” Suddenly it was “hip” and “legitimate” to consider a response of kindness and to express beauty over the more common habit of mere indifference and self-centeredness. There was a wave of inspired acts of kindness and creativity in unusual and unexpected ways to both strangers and friends. Many are still being inspired by this idea.
This demonstrates that a transformation in consciousness can come from a simple concept, received and recognized by a receptive individual. The process is quite simple. A good idea meets fertile mental ground and new possibilities are inspired where before there was only a habit of thought.
Certainly, the idea of “kindness” has been available as part of the human vocabulary of values forever. But, ho-hum, it’s just one of those abstract values anyone could define on a test, without really considering it as a value to turn to. When a specific application of “kindness” as a response in the face of frightening current issues brought it into public awareness, it became an obvious " I could be kind!" awakening moment to many.
Kindness and violence both originate as thoughts in human consciousness. Thoughts are just thoughts. They underlie how we see: the world, ourselves, and others. They form the mental climate determining our perceptions and in turn our responses to situations. We’ve been educated to them whether we are aware of it or not.
Enlightened spiritual teachings suggest that we are not our thoughts, but that we are the capacity to be aware of thoughts.
The “kindness” movement demonstrates that we can awaken to what we are thinking and choose loving and kind thoughts over thoughts that are angry, violent and cruel.
This is not something that happens by accident. It is something we are educated to.
Thoughts that are motivating what we feel, what we do and what we experience can be examined. And thoughts of harmony, peace, kindness and love can be cultivated.
While the “fad” of the “random acts of kindness” movement has quieted down, the underlying value has gone “viral.” A cultural wave of increasing “kindness” as an actual practical response to situations can be seen in daily living. I’ve noticed it growing in customer service providers, the caring from health care professionals, even the DMV, banks and post office service. Kindness, compassion and gratitude are currently very popular concepts in psychological, spiritual and self-help circles. . Perhaps it can even be seen more nationally in the movement to reform our criminal justice system and provide basic health care for all.
Violence and cruelty also continue to be part of the human mental climate fed with fearful thoughts. While thoughts are just thoughts – they do have consequences. Our actions are expressions of the thoughts we’ve been influenced by whether habitual or inspired.
If living with kindness and beauty is more appealing than living in violence and cruelty, you might consider the possibility to respond more often with kindness and seek to let your life be an expression of beauty.