Random Acts Of Kindness (or RAK) day is on February 17th. Apparently it's been RAK Week all week, according to the RAK Foundation's website. World Kindness Day is pencilled in for November 13th, so make a note of it now, if you need a reminder to be extra nice that day.
For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, it centres upon the notion of carrying out small, caring, kind acts for people around the world, in whatever guise that may be.
And while on the face of it this seems like a sweet idea, actually it really winds me up. Here's why.
Having a specific 'day' (or week, in this case) designated for kind acts probably started out as a bit of a fun idea, I'm sure. It is a sweet concept, but it just doesn't sit right with me. When you drill down into it, there seems to be an unspoken notion that we're not kind people, and need to try harder. The idea of 'RAK', however well-intended, has to have been borne of this assumption.
Is this true? Is it fair?
Yes, the world is a cruel place. Increasingly so. Kindness is absolutely important. But surely it's something we should foster in our personalities each and every day...and actually, don't most of us do that anyway?
I like to think that everyone shows kindness in one form or another each day, whether we recognise it or not. Human beings are predisposed to caring and kindness aren't we?
Perhaps this is naivety on my part, mixed with a hefty dose of cynicism, but I can't help but find the whole concept of RAK irritating, and a bit patronising too.
Having an allotted window in which we're meant to up our kindness efforts only makes us look at ourselves in a negative light and consider that we're 'not kind enough' already. It might not be said out loud, but it's implied. Surely we don't need another thing to criticise ourselves for?
How about we look at ourselves more kindly instead.
Think about that walk you took the dog on when you really, really couldn't be arsed - that was kind of you.
What about when you did the food shop at 8pm after a full day at work because your other half had been busy with the kids all day and had't had chance? That was kind of you.
Think about that conversation you had with your workmate earlier on. You didn't have anything particularly helpful to add to his dilemma, but you listened to him anyway. That was kind of you.
Or how about when you got a card for your that guy you've only known for a month or so but his wife's just had a baby and they haven't got a clue what's about to hit them so really, it's the least you can do? That was kind of you.
I'm not applying a hashtag to something that we all show each other every day.
Kindness is part of who we are. I won't be downloading a poster, or tweeting about my #RAK deeds, because I don't think we need another yardstick to measure core aspects of our character against.
We are all good people, and kindness is what we do each day. Let's do more of it, but don't let another hashtag campaign make you feel like you're not doing enough. You are.
'Love Yourself More' is available at Rosarts.