Acts of Kindness Are Not Difficult to Carry Out

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Saying hello to someone as you walk by them may brighten their day just as opening a door for a person in a wheelchair may do the same trick. Why not allow a person to cut in front of you in line? Showing a little human kindness to one another does not cost a dime, yet kindness seems to be fading away to a certain degree.

One of the contributing factors of kindness fading away is the media. The media seems to always depict human beings acting violent and displaying chaotic behavior. For example, the 5 o’clock news displays a car chase, cops and robbers are running through traffic lights only to have a tragic ending. It is rare to hear about someone doing good deeds for another.

Mass communication and political science professor Mike Eberts believes that media’s portrayals are more likely to focus on crude behavior because it is more entertaining (particularly to young males) than kind behavior.

International student Donato Bragagnolo agrees.

“Because the media tends to show mostly violence, people become scared and shut themselves off thinking that the outside is a jungle,” said Bragagnolo.

Many people in society today rely on the media as a guide to what is acceptable behavior. The media has a responsibility to their audience.

When the movie “Pay It Forward” was released, it had a positive impact on a lot of people. There were reports of people displaying random acts of kindness in the media.

According to Catherine Ryan, the author of the novel “Pay It Forward,” she was not expecting a social movement from the movie.
She developed a Web site to bring people together to share their “Pay it Forward” stories. The purpose of the site is to bring recognition to those doing good work and to put their efforts out in the open so that other people could be inspired. It is a good source to good news and a way to renew faith in human kindness.

“I think the media’s portrayals give the audience cues on how to act,” said Eberts. “I think the media is very powerful in setting social norms, especially among audience members who may not know how to act in a particular situation,” added Eberts.

The media influences us to be more selfish as well. People are becoming more selfish and impatient with one another. Reality shows such as “Survivor,” “Elimidate” and “The Real World” are there for our entertainment, but they tend to display selfish behaviors.

There is evidence of this everywhere. For instance, lunch hour in the cafeteria can get pretty crowded at times and seating is limited, some students sit at a table monopolizing it by chatting with their friends or doing their homework, while other students are looking for a table to eat at. It is pretty sad to see students rushing to put their book bag at a table when they see another student with a tray of food heading for that same table.

It is very rare that a student will get up from the lunch table and allow someone else to sit down so that they can eat. Where is the kindness?

It is interesting to note that in classrooms a lot of students do not interact with one another. They do not speak to one another unless they want something. They may pass their classmates outside of the classroom and regard them as total strangers; not a hello nor a smile. It is a cold feeling. It is a surprise that some teachers do not initiate a warmer environment for their students.

Granted, some classes have more students than others, but one would think that if teachers initiate some kind of ice breaker the first day of class, things might be a little different.

“It’s hard to keep a friendly relationship that is more than hi and bye,” said Bragagnolo.

Bragagnolo also believes that people are afraid to get to know new people. He said that no one helps eachother just for the pleasure of helping anymore.

According to CIGNA Behavioral Health, the psychological effects of kindness can give someone personal satisfaction, a sense of exhilaration and joy that can lead to a sense of well-being. The physical effects of kindness are that one may feel a sense of calmness and relaxation, which may also ease pain from headache and back pains. Showing kindness could even reduce high blood pressure. CIGNA also states that giving kindness could increase one’s energy level.

There are still shimmers of kindness that light among people.

Student Jacob Lopez, who is also the president of the dance club on campus said, “I witness kindness quite often from the Government of Student Affairs.” They set the mark of how we should be more social and get along with our fellow classmates which also makes me feel more comfortable at times than my own acquaintances,” he added.

Many times we witness students opening doors for those who are disabled and for those who are not, just to be kind. This is a good thing. People need to be aware of others around them and be considerate.

Mindfulness is the key to our future, according to Laura Matsumoto, professor of Adapted Computer Technology and Adapted Physical Education. Matsumoto, who has been teaching at GCC since 1999, said that being connected to the world, caring about how your actions and reactions are related is vital.

“I think it could be contagious if more people really focus their energy on being thoughtful and kind,” said Matsumoto.

Sometimes people take life and the people in their lives for granted and that should not be the case. We should not rely so much on the media as a guide for social acceptance and behavior. The world does not revolve around you. Think of others before thinking of yourself, it is a great feeling when you have done something nice for someone else.

It is imperative that each person took three minutes out of their own lives to know another person. Remember being kind to one another does not cost a thing; it is priceless.