top of page

Making kindness the norm

The Salvation Army specialises in random acts of kindness to the community every day of the year.

Tomorrow (17 February) is international Random Acts of Kindness Day, a day that celebrates ... well ... random acts of kindness all over the world. When random acts of kindness become habits and a lifestyle, the impact is even more powerful, writes Salvos Online’s FAY FOSTER



During a summer of violence in the 1990s, a reporter in the Bay area of San Francisco remarked that people should stop reporting on “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty” and start “practising random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”. That statement started a movement, and the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation was born.


Random acts of kindness happen when we decide, often on the spur of the moment, to do something nice for someone. For example, we might decide to send flowers to someone we haven’t seen for a while, give money to a person on the street, or pay for the coffee of the person behind us in the fast-food drive-through.


On 17 February each year, Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated internationally.


Celebrating this day can be a lot of fun as we think up and carry out random acts of kindness. However, kindness can be so much more than just a series of random events.


Instead of, or in addition to, the random performance of acts of kindness, we can plan and deliver acts of kindness that aim to meet the needs of those we know or have heard of.


These could be one-off acts, such as providing a person in poverty with a coat to keep them warm, treating a hurting friend to lunch or help­ing someone with their housework when they’re not feeling well. They could also be regular, purpose-driven acts, such as phoning a lonely person on a regular basis, donating to a worthwhile charity or volunteering at a drop-in centre or aged care facility.


The most empowering and effective form of kindness is a lifestyle of kindness. This is where we decide that we are going to be kind people; we are going to make kindness a part of our character and our everyday life. We might make a habit of holding the door for the person behind us, letting a mum with little children go ahead of us in the supermarket queue, or looking out for those left out and including them.

We can develop the habit of saying kind words to everyone we talk with, and of always thanking those who help us. Our emails and telephone calls can exude kindness. We may still perform acts of kindness that are random or regular, but our kindness has sunk into our souls and impacts our every thought and action.


The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation recognises that randomness is not the most desired result of their work in inspiring us all to be kind. Their slogan is “Make kindness the norm”. The norm for each individual, each family, and every society.


When we look back on our lives, one of the things that most, if not all, of us remember is a time when someone was unkind to us. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” said memoirist, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. Kind words and actions make us feel better, softer and stronger. Unkind words and actions can harden our spirit and destroy our confidence and self-worth for a very long time. We can let the kindness or unkindness of others determine our life choices, attitudes and achievements.


One way to become a kinder person is to always try to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re talking with or thinking about. When you think about their life, their situation, their family, you might feel less judgmental and more compassionate. Each person is largely the product of their family background, circumstances and experiences. It takes sincere desire and effort to become the person we deeply want to become – the one who is consis­tently kind and compassionate to others, rather than being blown around by our own hurts, history and circumstances.


Thankfully, kindness is one of the fruits, or gifts, of the Spirit of God. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbear­ance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” (Galatians chapter 5, verses 22-23a).


As we open our hearts to God and to his working in our lives, kindness grows in us and the whole world benefits. In a world where we can be anything – let’s be kind!





bottom of page