Perpetrating random acts of kindness

It was an average morning, with busy residents scurrying around town accomplishing mundane, everyday chores. And then, something unusual happened.

On Tuesday morning, a customer paying for lunch in the drive-thru line at the Elkins McDonald’s decided to also pay the bill for the next vehicle in line. That good deed set off a chain reaction, with drivers arriving at the window and learning their meals had already been paid for. Those drivers then decided to “pay it forward” as well and pick up the tab for the person behind them.

This remarkable occurrence didn’t happen in a vacuum. During the holiday season in Canada, one person’s decision to pay for the next customer in line at Tim Horton’s, a Canadian coffee chain, led to a three-hour celebration of “random acts of kindness,” as 228 customers in a row paid for the next person in line’s order. The story was widely publicized, and may have inspired Tuesday’s incident in Elkins.

Other “pay it forward” incidents nationwide have been inspired by the Facebook page “26 Acts of Kindness,” which suggests that, “in honor of the 26 children and adults that were taken from us in Connecticut,” readers perform 26 acts of kindness in their communities, and then share their stories. The page has been “liked” by Facebook users more than 97,000 times.

We applaud such small but heartwarming efforts to improve other people’s lives, and regret only that it takes the Christmas season – or worse, a nightmarish tragedy like the Connecticut school shootings – to get us to act like caring human beings.

Perhaps if we could all focus more on “paying it forward” and perpetrating “random acts of kindness” every day of the year we might actually be able to change the world. If not, at least we would all be a lot friendlier, and probably a lot happier.