There is one comedian I like above all others and that is Ellen DeGeneres. Overly conservative, critical and self-righteous people who knows who only knows about Ellen being lesbian would probably think that she is a poor choice of a comedian to like. Those people don’t really like gay men and women and they care nothing more than criticizing them, calling them names and alienating them. No, I do not intend to rant. That is not what this post is about. It is about kindness. So, then, why is Ellen’s name mentioned in this post? Allow me to explain.
There are hundred of comedians out there. Most of them tell jokes at the expense of others–in a way the demeans another person, makes fun of their flaws, disrespecting them. What I like about Ellen is that she doesn’t do that. The jokes she tells mostly revolve around funny incidents, things in real life that most of us do and say. She jokes about things that frighten her to make light of the situation. And sometimes–maybe even most of the time–she likes doing practical jokes that doesn’t really hurt anyone.
A lot of comedians do dirty jokes. Ellen does not. She tries not to cuss and not to step on anyone.
The way she makes people laugh isn’t the only thing I like about her. I like how at most of the shows of her that I have watched (since I haven’t been able to watch that many Ellen shows now) she would always remind people to “be kind to one another”. I like how she values respect and kindness. And she isn’t just doing so to save face or to make herself feel better.
The thirty-fourth chapter of Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff is entitled, Practice Random Acts of Kindness. When I read it, that phrase “be kind to one another” that Ellen likes to say to close her show came into mind. Granted, she wasn’t the first one to say such a thing. Someone else beat her to it. She was merely reminding us of that message. The first one who preached about being kind to others is, of course, Jesus Christ.
Below is the passage from the book that tells about practicing random acts of kindness:
There is a bumper sticker that has been out for some time now. You see it on cars all across the nation (in fact, I have one on my own car). It says, “Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty”. I have no idea who thought of this idea, but I’ve never seen a more important message on a car in front of me. Practicing random kindness is an effective way to get in touch with the joy of giving without expecting anything in return. It’s best practiced without letting anyone know what you are doing.
There are five toll bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area. A while back, some people began paying the tolls of the cars immediately behind them. The drivers would drive to the toll window, and pull out their dollar bill, only to be informed, “Your toll has been paid by the car ahead of you.” This is an example of a spontaneous, random gift, something given without expectation or demand for anything in return. You can imagine the impact that tiny gift had on the driver of the car! Perhaps it encouraged him to be a nicer person that day. Often a single act of kindness sets a series of kind acts in motion.
There is no prescription for how to practice random kindness. It comes from the heart. Your gift might be to pick up litter in your neighborhood, make an anonymous contribution to a charity, send some cash in an unmarked envelope to make someone experiencing financial stress breathe a little easier, save an animal by bringing it to an animal rescue agency, or get a volunteer position feeding hungry people at a church or shelter. You may want to do all these things, and more. The point is, giving is fun and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Perhaps the greatest reason to practice random kindness is that it brings great contentment into your life. Each act of kindness rewards you with positive feelings and reminds you of the important aspects of life–service, kindness, and love. If we all do our own part, pretty soon we will live in a nicer world.