HUMAN relations professor Charles Wall was listening to the radio news about a decade ago when the announcer said: “And in another random act of senseless violence . . .”
Wall thought to himself: “If they could take out the word violence and insert the word kindness, you would turn a negative into a positive.”
He gave his students an assignment to each perform a “senseless” and random act of kindness and report on it.
One student handed out blankets to the homeless. Another backed out of a hard-to-find parking space and gave it to another driver. One paid his mother’s power bill; another took her nine-year-old daughter to visit the sick at a hospital.
The students turned the assignment into a bumper sticker campaign.
Now the phrase “Perform an act of senseless kindness today” is regularly seen in US cities.
It may be seen as a New Age fad, but Wall believes the campaign is a tool to heal a sick society.
He said: “People are just so sick of all the hate and violence in the world that they’re looking for anything that would make life just a little bit better.”
T HE kindness movement has been around for a while.
Jesus said: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
Jewish philosopher Hillel, a contemporary of Jesus, said: “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary.”
In his book The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren asks: “What on Earth am I here for?”
He wastes no time giving an answer. Chapter one begins: “It’s not about you.”
Warren, pastor of one of America’s biggest churches, criticises “worldly Christians” who are “saved, but self-centred”.
“God wants to make you holy more than he wants to make you happy,” he says
“In heaven, God is going to openly reward some of his most obscure and unknown servants — people we have never heard of on Earth, who taught emotionally disturbed children, cleaned up after incontinent elderly, nursed AIDS patients and served in thousands of other unnoticed ways.”