April 23, 2013

Editorial: Appreciating acts of kindness


---- — Every once in awhile we get a Speakout entry that really sets people off.

If you don’t already know, Speakout is an anonymous discussion forum offered by the Press-Republican. Extremely well-read, it runs in the paper and is posted online.

A recent entry raised the ire of many people. The person wrote: “The driver ahead of me paid for my coffee order at Dunkin’ the other day. If you wish to do a good deed, give to a legitimate and needy charity. I made $140,000 last year. Thanks anyway.”

That reaction did not sit well with readers. It brought a flurry of online comments. So we posted it on Facebook, to give those readers a chance to weigh in. Within 20 minutes, it received more than 100 responses. We thought we would share a few:

Amber St John: “It’s called a Random Act of Kindness or Paying It Forward, not ‘Hey...I think that person behind me has no money so I’m gonna buy their coffee.’ People like this just don’t get it ...”

William Stanley: “It amazes me that someone so boneheaded stupid makes that much.”

Melanie Spofford-Uihlein: “When my son was about 3, he received the same Christmas gift from two different people. When he opened up the second one, he rudely put it down and mumbled that he already has one of these. I was so upset at his rudeness. I immediately pulled him aside and explained to him how to accept a gift graciously, regardless of what it is...”

Vicki Moore: “Perhaps he should do a letter to the editor and sign his name. See how that rolls for him.”

Deborah E. Drake: “I believe the individual might have missed the point and, unfortunately, the blessing.”

Melody Bushey: “I was taught from the very beginning of my life that if someone gives you a gift you should be thankful for it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a picture drawn by a two-year-old, a macaroni necklace made by a seven-year-old, the ‘ugly sweater’ knitted by someone, or if it’s diamonds or gold. Price doesn’t matter. What matters is that someone cared enough to show a kind gesture to you. That is priceless and something to be grateful for.”

Andrew Pulrang: “I agree with the point that I think the person was trying to make. Personal charity is a nice thing and makes people happy, but more thought-out, selective charity can actually make real, lasting improvements in people’s lives. That said, why can’t you do both? Do the occasional random act of kindness AND give thoughtfully to an organized charity or program you agree with. Also, I wonder if the Speakout comment reads as more blunt than the person actually intended to be. It’s hard to make yourself clear in just a couple of sentences.”

Heather Strickland Hanson: “This just further reinforces my lack of faith in humanity. When one person can not perform a kind gesture without being criticized for it, what does this say about our society? And what are we teaching our children if we are not teaching them to be grateful for the little things in life?”

Tarah Beymer D’Elia: “It is just as important to accept kindness graciously as it is to offer it with grace.”