If you look at the calendar, you can find a handful of national and made-up holidays for every day of the year. There's everything from National Potato day to National Hug Your Dog Day. 

In this week's commentary, Salvation South editor Chuck Reece explores one of those made-up holidays that particularly resonates with him, National Random Acts of Kindness Day.



Chuck Reece - Salvation South Editor: My wife, Stacy, is a wonderful human being. One of the many things I love about her is how she keeps up with national holidays. Not just the official holidays, but the made up ones, too. The Hallmark holidays. Things like National Popcorn Day, National Tater Tot Day, National Hug Your Dog Day (woof!).

Now, I didn't make those up. Those are real things and there are hundreds more of them. Every date on the calendar has about three or four such days associated with it.

Now, several months ago, specifically on February 17th, Stacy told me it was National Random Acts of Kindness Day. So I went looking for some random acts of kindness. And I started by rereading the stories we had published that week in Salvation South, the web magazine that I edit. And sure enough, I found kindness all over the place. A Florida writer named Jordan Blumetti had given us a great story about the stupendous and deeply eccentric Florida writer Padgett Powell, who lives in the swamps of Northern Florida. And in this story, Powell recounted a time when his house in the swamps was flooded by Hurricane Irma, forcing him to recruit an eclectic band of his neighbors to "hump" his antique furniture upstairs to dry ground.

Now, you can always count on swamp dwellers to be kind, I reckon. Shelley Johansson had written an essay about her family's decades of sewing for the public good: Everything from making bandages for the wounded in wartime to making masks to ward off COVID-19 in more recent days. For generations, her family had taken up the needle and thread as a random act of kindness. And an Alabama writer named Jennifer Crossley Howard told us how she wound up penniless and how the grace of others had helped her make a comeback.

Now, I was pleased to find that our publication that week was filled with acts of kindness. And it made me wonder, does every good story have kindness in it? That's the kind of question that makes you go hmmmm. But I think the answer to it might be yes. In all good stories there is tension typically between good and evil, and kindness is one of the forces for good. In my life story, I'm always keeping an eye out for the moments when I can be randomly kind to someone else. And I think maybe I should follow the rule that Kurt Vonnegut laid down.

"Hello babies," he wrote. "Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. And there's only one rule I know of, babies, god #%$*. You've got to be kind."

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Salvation South editor Chuck Reece comments on Southern culture and values in a weekly segment that airs Fridays at 7:45 a.m. during Morning Edition and 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on GPB Radio. You can also find them here at GPB.org/Salvation-South.