Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Random acts of kindness

I was turned on to a wonderful blog the other day by Linda at A Slower Pace. She wrote about an Oregon physician, Jill Ginsberg, who began a blog last month after deciding to honor her mother's memory by giving away a $100 dollar bill to a stranger every day during the month of October. She is unsure how or whether to continue her blog after the month is over, but I was so fascinated by the idea and her story that I went back and read every post. She calls the blog (at least for now) My Month of Hundreds.

Every single entry has been interesting. She is a good writer and communicator. Jill calls herself a "fifty-something physician" who inherited some unexpected money from her mother and wanted to do something special with the money to honor her. The story was picked up last Sunday by OregonLive.Com and now Jill has become something of a celebrity. The link takes you to the article and to some of the comments left by readers. What surprises me is how many people seem to think this is a terrible idea; some even find it reprehensible, which flabbergasted me.

It has also made me think of how a random act of kindness can be construed, or misconstrued. I've done my share, brought flowers to a friend for no reason, given money to a homeless man on the street, or befriended a stranger and given them food and other sustenance. I haven't done it for awhile, but I notice that since reading her blog, I look at the people on the bus or in the coffee shop with a different eye, wondering how each one of them might act and feel if Jill were to walk up to them and give them a C-note.

Thinking about these unique and individual lives, who are precious to their loved ones, and hopefully to themselves, makes me realize that we are each separate and connected at the same time. Although I don't know any of the people on the bus personally, I could sit down and start a conversation at any time. I usually follow the custom of taking a seat on the bus with nobody in the seat next to me, until all the spaces are taken and someone needs to sit beside another rider. If the bus begins to fill, I always pick up the packages I might have placed next to me so someone can sit down. I fantasized this morning about Jill sitting down next to me and offering me a $100 bill in honor of her mother. How would I feel?

It's interesting to wonder whether I would feel honored or somehow seen as needy. That money would certainly not change my life (and would probably be spent on a pair of cargo pants at REI), but some of the people who get on the bus at the Lighthouse Mission might not feel the same way. Jill embarked on an adventure that has changed quite a few lives already, her own included.

If you want to be inspired or have time for a good read, I highly recommend My Month of Hundreds.
:-)

19 comments:

  1. i think it is pretty cool actually...you never know how much they needed it...i will go check her out...very cool.

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  2. I think this is a great idea. As I have mentioned in my last post, my husband loves to help and to give. It makes him feel good. He is always helping his family and seems to be criticized over and over by other family members. It makes me so mad. I should suggest to him that we give to strangers that would appreciate!

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  3. Your post reminds me of the old TV series, "The Millionaire." An anonymous millionaire gave a million dollars to someone, and the show depicted the recipient's life afterward (for better or for worse).
    So, it's been done before...

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  4. I read Jill's story from the link on Linda's blog too. I haven't gone to her actual blog yet. My first take was how it was changing the life of Jill, the giver, in a positive way. I had no idea people were critical of her giving.
    You do raise an interesting thought. How would i feel if Jill gave me $100? I think I might pass it forward, giving it to a person or cause in need. Or I would spend it. Adding to the local economy keeps businesses and jobs intact.
    I'll have to check out Jill's blog.

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  5. This is a beautiful idea...and I wonder how many people might pass it on.

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  6. Thanks for mentioning Jill's blog on your blog. The more we pass her story around the better. It doesn't have to be money, but even enough money for a cup of coffee everyday would lift someone's spirits. It could be a random act of kindness just as well. What counts is the change in the people involved, both Jill and the receiver.

    We are buried in the ugliness of today. Wouldn't it be wonderful to combat that with good deeds everywhere to bring out the best in our country to fight the worst?

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  7. Sounds like a wonderful concept. Thank you for this link.

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  8. Interesting concept, I will go and check out her site. It is so sad that people abhor her efforts to do this good deed....

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  9. There will never be enough giving in America, and our society (in general) does a good job at keeping stigma attached to the concept of giving. It's a damned shame. Yes, there are many who take advantage, and yes, there can be some risk (with a few) of reinforcing a dependent mindset, but we really can't afford to think about that because there are too many men, women, and children with deep and genuine need. My only other thought is that money can sometimes come across as empty if it is not accompanied by a willingness to actually spend a little time relating to someone, helping them to believe that you truly don't see them as being somehow less worthy or less loved by God. I think Jill Ginsberg did (and is no doubt still doing) a wonderful thing.

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  10. What a lovely idea :) I adore random acts of kindness especially as they can be so simple - holding a door open, keeping the lift waiting, helping someone figure out directions. Really who doesn't like making people smile?

    www.damselinadirtydress.com

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  11. It reminds me of the movie Pay It Forward. Thanks for the tip on her blog. I'm off to there now!

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  12. So..I think it is lovely..the idea to give away money. I have a blog I follow ..she does a random act of kindness every Monday. Pays for a meal or a cup of coffee.
    My Mother struck up a conversation with some people in line at the grocery store..and the guy just paid for all her groceries..she was stunned.
    So..now for the question that is burning in my brain..why do you sit alone on the bus..just think of the new friends you could make:)

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  13. I love the idea of this. I have heard of other people doing something similar. For me, when I can, I like doing little things like paying for someone's gas or buying the person's lunch who is beind me in the drive-through. When I was in England, I would pay the toll fees for the cars behind me, or pay for the ice cream bill for someone in the shop I'm in. I never stuck around to see their reactions, but I often wonder if it put a smile on their faces or sent them in a talespin of confusion. :)

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  14. thanks for the link

    I think it's a wonderful idea, we could all use a bit more kindness

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  15. $100 is nothing to sneeze at. It would certainly encourage the receiver to think about this act of generosity. I heard on the radio World Kindness Day is November 13.

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  16. What a lovely idea!
    Blessings, Star

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  17. This does sound like a wonderful idea. A few more random acts of kindness would be good for all of us. It doesn't even have to involve money, a simple smile to a stranger on the street or in a line at the grocery store could change a life.

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