A good turn message
Paul Parry (PAULP@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 27 Nov 1991 00:37:10 EST
A friend just showed me the following magazine editorial and I thought I'd
share it with you all.Its great way of explaining the scout slogan,and although
most of the examples are above a boy's understanding, the overall message is
"PRACTICE RANDOM KINDENESS AND SENSELESS ACTS OF BEAUTY"
It's a crisp winter day in San Francisco. A woman in a red Honda, Christ-
mas presents piled in the back, drives up to the Bay Bridge tollbooth.
"I'm paying for myself, and for the six cars behind me," she says with a
smile, handing over seven commuter tickets.
One after another, the next six drivers arrive at the tollbooth, dollars
in hand, only to be told, "Some lady up ahead already paid your fare.
Have a nice day."
The woman in the Honda, it turned out, had read something on an index
card taped to a friend's refrigerator: "Practice random kindness and
senseless acts of beauty." The phrase seemed to leap out at her, and she
copied it down.
Judy Foreman spotted the same phrase spray-painted on a warehouse wall a
hundred miles from her home. When it stayed on her mind for days, she
gave up and drove all the way back to copy it down. "I thought it was
incredibly beautiful," she said explaning why she's taken to writing it
at the bottom of all her letters, "like a message from above."
Her husband, Frank, liked the phrase so much that he put it up on the
wall for his seventh graders, one of whom was the daughter of a local
columnist. The columnist put it in the paper, admitting that though she
liked it, she didn't know where it came from [sic] or what it really
Two days later, she heard from Anne Herbert. Tall, blonde, and forty,
Herbert lives in Marin, one of the country's ten richest counties, where
she house-sits, takes odd-jobs, and gets by. It was in a Sausalito
restaurant that Herbert jotted the phrase down on a paper place mat,
after turning it around in her mind for days.
"That's wonderful!" a man sitting nearby said, and copied it down
carefully on his own placemat.
"Here's the idea," Herbert says. "anything you think there should be
more of, do it randomly."
Her own fantasies include: (1) breaking into depressing-looking schools
to paint the classrooms, (2) leaving hot meals on kitchen tables in the
poor parts of town, (3) slipping money into a proud old woman's purse.
Says Herbert, "kindness can build on itself as much as violence can."
Now the phrase is spreading, on bumper stickers, on walls, at the bottom
of letters and business cards. And as it spreads, so does a vision of
In Portland, Oregon, a man might plunk a coin into a stranger's meter
just in time. In Patterson, New Jersey, a dozen people with pails and
mops and tulip bulbs might descend on a run-down house and clean it from
top to bottom while the frial elderly owners look on, dazed and smiling.
In Chicago, a teenage boy may be shoveling off the driveway when the
impulse strikes. What the hell, nobody's looking, he thinks, and shovels
the neighbor's driveway, too.
It's positive anarchy, disorder, a sweet disturbance. A woman in Boston
writes "Merry Christmas!" to the tellers on the back of her checks. A
man in St. Louis, whose car has just been rear-ended by a young woman,
waves her away, saying, "It's a scratch. Don't Worry."
Senseless acts of beauty spread: A man plants daffodils along the
roadway, his shirt billowing in the breeze from passing cars. In
Seattle, a man appoints himself a one man vigilante sanitation service
and roams the concrete hills collecting litter in a supermarket cart. In
Atlanta, a man scrubs graffiti from a green park bench.
They say you can't smile without cheering yourself up a little --
likewise, you can't commit a random act of kindeness without feeling as
if your own troubles have been lightened if only because the world has
become a slightly better place.
And you can't be a recipient without feeling a shock, a pleasant jolt.
If you were one of those rush-hour drivers who found your bridge fare
paid, who knows what you might have been inspired to do for someone else
later? Wave someone on in the intersection? Smile at a tired clerk? Or
something larger, greater? Like all revolutions, guerrilla goodness
begins slowly, with a single act. Let it be yours.
Reprinted (without permission) from Glamour magazine, December, 1991.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City