Every year in February there is the Random Acts of Kindness Day, during which we are encouraged to show small acts of kindness to strangers that we encounter, to make kindness the norm. I love this idea and am encouraged by the movement. As with all parts of generosity, the science behind it proves that it is good for everyone involved, so get on it.
The challenge that I am putting to people (mostly me) this year is, alongside your random acts of kindness to total strangers on February 17, find small random kind things that you can do to your own household.
For some reason, when thinking about participating in random acts of kindness I automatically assume that it will be for someone I have never met before because that’s exciting. To imagine their surprise and delight when I gift them with something makes me happy. I find it harder to think of creating the same experience for those in my family. Perhaps I’m just a terrible person, but it seems to be a more challenging project.
Maybe the difference is the expectation. If I do a random thing once a year to someone I don’t know, then on February 18 no one is waiting expectantly to be surprised and delighted. It’s a ‘no pressure’ type of kindness. Kind of like the ‘one night stand’ version.
If I create a kindness experience for my family, those that I see every day, that see me every day and know me the best, if I have a bad day when I am ‘not as kind’, then they can rightfully ask where my kindness went. I’m not sure if I want to face that sort of scrutiny. Which is crazy because I know that if I can be kind at random intervals to them then it will serve my family well and deepen our love for each other.
So here’s to random acts of kindness everywhere but also in my household on February 17, and hopefully more to come after as it becomes the norm.
“Surely charity begins at home and surely we must look after our own first.”
“We must take care of our own country before we could even consider taking care of somebody else.”
an attempt to be part of the active conversation around foreign aid and its
complexity, here are a few thoughts as to why the above comments, which seem
accurate, are wrong. There are so many reasons why we need to reconsider how we
look at the issue of foreign aid.
Firstly, and not for nothing, but ‘charity begins at home’ actually comes from the concept that charity gets taught to kids first in their home – that’s where we learn about helping others. It’s not a statement about how our care and concern for other humans must be, first and foremost, on the people that happen to live within the same arbitrary borders as us, and anyone who doesn’t fit into that just has to wait in line.
Secondly, the more money that we put in the places that are so close to us, that would just about be considered Australia, the better off we are. Take Indonesia, for example, the more money that we can put towards their education system, creates a better educated society, increased economic growth and a more stable region. We know that Indonesia will become the 4th biggest economy in the world over the next 20 years, so it makes economic sense to help end poverty there. Surely we can all agree that increased economic growth and stability in Indonesia and the Asian region as a whole is a good thing?
As the Australian Government says:
“Helping poor people out of poverty in areas of strategic importance for Australia is also good for our own peace and stability. Of Australia’s 24 nearest neighbours, 22 are developing countries with some of them particularly fragile and vulnerable.”
Next: Instead of bemoaning about how we are ripping our farmers off, let’s look at why Foreign Aid is good for our farmers.
I’ve heard it so often. From so many people. Different types of people.
Amazing, thoughtful, loving people.
Angry, selfish, arrogant people.
Some are unwilling to even contemplate a different point of view and others almost make the statement as a question. ‘Charity begins at home…doesn’t it?’.
I don’t disagree with the statement. I’ve been a proponent for international aid and development for 15 years. I think we have a huge responsibility to our world for a number of reasons. But I’m not heartless. I care about those who suffer here in Australia. I care about those who are sick, hurting, homeless and living in poverty. And so, yes, charity does begin at home. But it does not end there and it certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t provide assistance for those suffering internationally at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I often forget just how amazing life is here in Australia, just how great certain parts are. I was having a conversation with someone who migrated here over 10 years ago and when they visited their home country recently they were shocked by how unsafe they felt. Life in Australia had dulled their senses and they forgot that going about life without looking over their shoulder or trying to spot danger at every turn, isn’t normal. But it should be.
I’m not saying that every other country is unsafe, nor am I saying that Australia is perfect and nothing bad ever happens, but what we have here is a gift. A gift that we have done nothing to deserve, and one that I believe comes with a responsibility. Let’s support charity at home and everywhere else.