For most of us, kindness is something we aspire to embrace. We want to be the kind of people who are remembered for the good we did. We’d like to know that, in our short time in this world, we managed to make someone else’s short existence that little bit sunnier.
Often, it’s all we can do to chuck some change to a homeless person or into a charity bucket. Our kindnesses are often exclusively offered to our friends and relatives. To people we love. Sometimes, we extend that generosity to strangers, but even then it’s usually because they suffer in the same way we do. People give to people who have experienced the same problems they have. People are more likely to help solve a problem if it’s one they’ve suffered themselves.
For most people, finding the time and energy to give unconditionally is hard.
But not for eight-year-old Alex McKelvey.
When her grandmother died, she explains, Alex and her mother wanted to pay tribute to her in a way that would reflect the positive impact that she had on her family. They chose to carry out sixty random acts of kindness before the date that would’ve been her grandmother’s sixtieth birthday.
The date arrived and Alex, with her parents’ help, had finished her sixty acts.
She decided, by the next year, to do a further six hundred.
These kind deeds go for leaving lucky pennies and coins were children will see them, donating pet food to local animal shelters, donating toys and gifts to underprivileged schools, and even leaving tips of $100 to exhausted waiters and bartenders who served her. Most recently, she helped renovate a YMCA youth centre.
It helps, of course, that Alex had parents with the resources that allow her to do these things. Not everyone can afford to leave $100 tips just to brighten a stranger’s day. Not everyone has the free time to repaint a community centre.
Alex is lucky.
But her attitude is her own. A lot of people with those kinds of resources just keep them for themselves. They don’t go out of their way to make other people better off.
And, Alex being dedicated to sharing her good fortune, is commendable and an inspiration.
She talks about her decisions in interviews that can be found online. She says she’s not done helping people, that she wants to continue doing more good deeds, just for the sake of being good. She says she wants to set herself higher targets, to keep increasing the number of nice things she does. She says she doesn’t care about getting attention for it. She doesn’t want to be a celebrity.
“I just want to be a nice little girl,” she says.
If everyone could aspire only to be nice – if there were more people like Alex McKelvey – this world would be a better place
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