People Often for Good

I’m a huge fan of people for good, and I’m also a huge fan of People for Good. Confused? People for Good is the national campaign for kindness I wrote about back in August. The idea, the website and all the people involved in it fill me with so much happy, happy, joy, joy.

Now that we agree on that, I want to share just one teeny-tiny quibble I have with People for Good’s new TV ads. Don’t get me wrong. I love that there even are TV commercials whose sole purpose is to make you sweet, not sell you a car or a beer or all-day mascara. These ads are meant to further the notion that the world would be a better place if we performed more acts of altruism. So far so good. Here’s one about a man giving up his subway seat to a woman bursting with pregnancy, and here’s another one about two car drivers behaving charitably in a parking lot. Here’s one for folks who support bug conservation. They’re fine ads.

So where’s my quibble? It’s with the punch line. At the end of each of these commercials, a message floats on the screen: “If good deeds were more common, they wouldn’t stand out so much.”

See, I just can’t get on board with that. I think good deeds are common. I think a whole lot of good deeds don’t stand out.

Of course others do take our breath away, like when a community rallies with donations for struggling young students, or when a neighbourhood hangs a hundred thousand outdoor Christmas lights for a grieving mother, or when eight total strangers lift a smoldering car to save a man’s life.

But remember, we’re biologically wired to be kind. Look around, and you’ll notice a pretty steady hum of good deeds in your workplace, in the transit system, on the street, in your home. (Only moments ago, my husband brought me chocolate. Chocolate is kind.)

Most of these good deeds never make the news. But isn’t that the point? They’re so common, so usual, so numerous that we don’t stop the presses. We don’t report them. We don’t log them for the history books.

We smile and we say thank you. And we go on with our ordinary day.

What do you think? Is a good deed a rare bird?

4 responses to “People Often for Good

  1. I see good all day, every day, from friends, family and strangers. I think good and good deeds are very common, in fact, the norm rather than the exception. I think people are wired to do good rather than evil, harm or nothing. We don’t naturally set out to hurt people or make others’ lives difficult unless there is something wrong with us. Those ads bewildered me from the beginning and the shouting upsets me. I think, if anything, they promote simple good manners which aren’t being taught to children. I see this continually when I push the door opener to go through with my scooter and several children, or even adults, slip through in front of me. They can’t wait and, by the time they are through, the door is closing on me. Simple good manners often come close to the description of good deeds.

  2. I’m glad it’s not just me! Thank you for your terrific contribution, Linda.

  3. I agree with you, Lisa. People perform good deeds all the time. Quietly. Without fuss. Without fanfare. They don’t want to call attention to themselves. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

  4. Thanks for writing, Grace. That’s probably why so many good deeds don’t stand out. Of course, the ones that do are lovely, too – science has found that people are more likely to do good deeds when the topic is in their face. Kinda like this blog?

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