In 1982, writer Anne Herbert put a more positive spin on the expression "random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty," arguing that we should instead practice "random kindness and senseless acts of beauty." Today, her sentiment is most commonly expressed as "random acts of kindness," and February 17 is celebrated annually as Random Acts of Kindness Day.
In 1995, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation was founded. And it was in the mid-1990s that books on the idea began to be published. One of the earliest books is now available in a 20th-century edition, Random Acts of Kindness, Then and Now (e-book), which adds to the original book new ideas on kindness gathered from social media.
Several books offer daily ideas and lists of possible good deeds. Simple Acts of Kindness (e-book) and One Good Deed a Day (e-book) are straightforward collections of kindness ideas. Orly Wahba's Kindness Boomerang (e-book, print) includes suggestions on how to be kind not only to others, but to yourself. And the Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional (e-book) approaches the subject from the Christian point of view, with daily Bible readings and inspirational stories.
Another popular type of writing on the subject is the anthology of stories and anecdotes about real-life acts of kindness. The "Chicken Soup for the Soul" franchise, which specializes in uplifting stories, has its own Random Acts of Kindness volume (e-book, print), and there's a book about Random Acts of Kindness by Anmials (e-book). It's never too early to introduce children to the idea, and Kids' Random Acts of Kindness (e-book, print) collects stories by children about acts of kindness in their own lives.
There are also memoirs, in which writers explore at greater length how Random Acts of Kindness have changed their lives. Erin McHugh set herself the birthday challenge of doing a daily act of kindness for the next year and writes about that year in One Good Deed (e-book, print). Lisa Barrickman's A Case for Kindness (e-book) follows the ripple effect through her community of her own campaign of daily kindness. And Ferial Pearson was inspired after the Sandy Hook school shooting to ask her students whether small acts of kindness could make a difference in their school; her students accepted the challenge and became Secret Kindness Agents (e-book).
Also This Week
- February 16, 1938: John Corigliano was born. Corigliano is a composer who has written in all forms but is best known for his orchestral music and concertos. His music has won the Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award for Best Original Score, and three Grammy Awards for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. Corigliano's flute concerto Pied Piper Fantasy is available for streaming, and a variety of his music is available on CD.
- February 19, 1952: Amy Tan was born. Tan is a novelist whose work usually centers on mother-daughter relationships in Chinese-American families. Her first novel, The Joy Luck Club (e-book, e-audio, print), told the stories of four such mother-daughter pairs and was adapted as a movie in 1993 (DVD). Tan's most recent works is a "writer's memoir," Where the Past Begins (e-book, e-audio, print).
- February 16, 1959: John McEnroe was born. From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, McEnroe was one of the world's finest tennis players. During his career, he was ranked #1 in both singles and doubles. He won 155 tournaments, evenly divided between singles and doubles, more than any other male tennis player in the modern era. McEnroe now works as a television commentator at major tournaments. He was known for his short temper on the court, frequently challenging umpires with cries of "you cannot be serious," a phrase that he used as the title of his first memoir (e-book, print); his second memoir is called But Seriously (e-book, e-audio, print).
- February 16, 1968: Warren Ellis was born. Ellis is a comic book writer whose work often explores ways in which future technology might enhance human capabilities, both mentally and physically. He has been a prominent figure in comics for nearly 25 years, and has written for most of the major publishers in the industry, including both DC and Marvel. His longest work to date is Transmetropolitan (e-book, print), which ran for 60 issues from 1997 to 2002, and tells the story of a journalist working to bring down a corrupt president in a dystopian future America.