Tell us about the time when you performed a secret random act of kindness — where the recipient of your kindness never found out about your good deed. How did the deed go down?
Throughout my adult life, since I was old enough to be responsible for my own actions, I have given when I could to people who needed it. And I have received — if not in equal measure, certainly when in real need — from others, though rarely from the people to whom I have given. Karma doesn’t work like that.
I assume this is not talking about holding a door or helping someone put groceries in their trunk. Letting someone who is obviously in a hurry go before you on the cashier’s line. Changing seats on the bus or airplane so someone else can be nearer their husband or child … or the toilet. I don’t consider such things kindnesses, but rather common courtesies everyone should extend to everyone else. Always, without thought or regard for payback or even thanks. I couldn’t even remember 99% of them. They are to me — and I assume to most people — automatic. Programmed into our social DNA. Or should be. Just call them “manners.”
I don’t keep score. I’ve taken people in when they had nowhere to go, sometimes for years. I have been taken in when I had nowhere to go. I’ve fed the hungry and been fed when I was hungry. I’ve delivered groceries to people in dire need, given clothing, computers, musical instruments, books, bags, furniture and the occasional automobile because I had more than I needed and they didn’t have enough. Was it done in secret? No. I usually respond to needs spontaneously when someone makes it known. I hear they need a coat, would love to own that book, need a car. Don’t know how they’re going to feed the family this week. I give what I have to fill a need.
Does it make the gift less worthy? I don’t think so. Do I require a lifetime of gratitude in exchange? You’re kidding, right?
It reminds me of the story told about William Randolph Hearst, who remarked upon seeing an old adversary on the street, “I don’t know why he hates me, I never did him a favor.” And there are many similar quotes.
“Hope has a good memory, gratitude a bad one.” — Baltasar Gracian.
“Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.” — Edward Gibbon
Dr. Malherbe of Natal University said to Field Marshal Smuts as he left a political meeting, “Why were those two hecklers at the back so bitterly hostile?” Smuts replied, “I understand the feelings of one of them very well indeed. He and I were brought up together in the same small town in the Western Cape. I got him his first appointment—and his second. In fact, he owes all his worldly success to me. But I don’t know why the other was so hostile. I never did him a favor in my life.”
“You did him a favor. He’ll never forgive you for that.” — The Boxer 1997
Those are the tip of the iceberg. If you do a good deed, do not expect it to come back to you as gratitude or in kind. Such expectations will doom you to disappointment.
Acts of kindness and generosity do not make friendships. More often than not, they stir up resentment. People hate owing debts of gratitude. The most popular people are always those who don’t do anything for anybody. Those are the folks who are admired and adored, followed and emulated. Don’t ask me why. Human nature is a peculiar thing. The longer I live, the less sense it makes.
If you figure it out, be sure to let me know. It’s one of the deepest secrets of life. Very deep. Very secret.
- Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness (dailypost.wordpress.com)
- Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
- A little mind-twister on random kindnesses | Rob’s Surf Report
- Random Acts of Kindness | News by Carolyn Perez
- Random Acts of Kindness: The Travel Edition | Travel. Garden. Eat.
- Kindness Is Not Always Random
- The Lurker’s List | Secret Kindness
- Why It’s Good To Give In Secret | The Jittery Goat