Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mapping Kindness

"Random acts of kindness are getting a high-tech boost...First, print a card at Then do something nice for a stranger, like sharing an umbrella or helping carry luggage, and hand that person the card. The recipient can go online and note where the act of kindness took place and pass the card along."

Jeremy Caplan, "New Ways to Make a Difference," Time,September21, 2009

I have to admit, this sounds silly to me. I'm big on small acts of civility -- doors, directions, etc. But becoming too self-conscious about it seems to defeat the purpose. I think Aristotle said something like "we become good by doing good, not by thinking about doing good."

There is also a lot of potential to ruin someone's day with misdirected kindness. Rushing to share an umbrella with a stranger might not always be well received. And handing out cards will no doubt increase litter and convey a sense of hussle. Stopping someone to explain in great depth the mapping of kindness and the potential tipping point from accumulated small acts may be perceived as a waste of time and otherworldly -- not kindness.

Try small acts of kindness without forethought. Let's see what happens

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