47 random acts of kindness for her 47th birthday; standing on the street corner handing out money for 57 minutes on the 57th anniversary of his birth. And the crowd goes wild. One cannot help but read about these people on the internet, see them on television, or hear about what a great idea they’ve found. Practice random acts of kindness; it will do you good.

While I do admire these people and their resolve to give rather than to receive on their special days, I hesitate to call what they are doing “Random Acts of Kindness” (RAK). They are rather, “Planned Acts of Generosity” or PAG.  That is not to say that these wonderful people are not kind or generous or loving. On the contrary, these humans are terrific models of niceness for the rest of us.

The “RAK”, however, is something entirely different. RAKs are truly random; they are simple kindnesses, favors, actions of love that flow naturally on a daily basis from one who feels thankful for all he has and is. They are not reserved for birthdays or planned in advance. True RAKs do not require money but can be as simple as opening a door for a person with full hands or smiling at someone who seems a little frazzled. If we have to think up something nice to do, the action isn’t exactly random, is it?

From a Christian perspective, which is the one I hold, we can simply quote scripture: “We love because he first loved us.” If my love is second nature, I don’t even realize I am performing a RAK, nor do I feel the need to call attention to my kindness. Oh, but who of us is that good?

Still, the very fact that these generous people chose to be kind is a good thing, random or not.

Which brings up another conundrum. We tend to call any action of generosity a selfless act. Indeed, any endeavor that would bring wealth to the recipient and perhaps be a sacrifice to the giver is to be admired and emulated, but is it really selfless?

Perhaps media people are so eager to cover stories of RAKs because we become fatigued with the ones about the evil and meanness of which man is capable. We tire of bad news. Were I a journalist who encountered a man handing out money on a street corner rather than begging cash, I would certainly want to point him out as a good egg. And he is — a superb human being.

Is his act still selfless, though, if he receives attention, kudos, hurrahs for his generosity? Is an act selfless if it makes us feel good about ourselves and what we’ve been able to accomplish? Well, maybe we can’t ever be truly selfless, but I suppose there is nothing wrong with planning to be kind.

So, I propose a new fad. Let’s ditch the RAK that is not actually random and instead call it what it is: a Planned Act of Love. PAL sounds better than RAK anyway.

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