The quote by Princess Diana, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” extols the virtues of kindness and generosity.
What is important in this quote is one should do random acts of kindness. What does it mean by “random”? It does not mean that we act randomly, but it means ‘spontaneous’ and not pre-meditated.
One must be kind and generous to other, on the spur of the moment, without thinking of getting anything in return. Often, this is the best kind of help that one can extend. This is extended to those who need help the most, and there is no one else to help them at that moment.
Kindness is Not a Quid Pro Quo
Coming to the second part of the quote, that one day someone might do the same for you; is not important. In fact, having such conscious thought in itself sounds selfish. It undermines the kindness that you extend to others. Ideally, you should be kind to others, regardless of how they behave later. That is the true spirit of kindness.
Kindness is not a two-way business deal. As the old Indian saying goes, “Do good and drown it in the sea.” The meaning being, forget the good that you have done and move on. That is the spirit of kindness and generosity.
The moment you think of getting anything in return, it ceases to an act of kindness, making it a business deal or a quid pro quo, which means a favor granted in return for something.
The best under the circumstances is to wish that the person too helps someone in a similar circumstance. Although imposing any wish forcefully, is again neither kindness nor generosity.
The All-Powerful Laws of Karma
Although it is true that an act of kindness should be done without any expectation of any returns, at the same time it is also true that a good deed never goes unrewarded.
To that extent, the latter part of the quote, “… safe in the knowledge that one day…” is so true. Some day your Karma is sure to find you, and just as someone can’t escape his evil deeds, the noble deeds also cannot go unrewarded.
There are innumerable stories that illustrate this universal truth. Here is one that is amazing and incredible, yet a true story that is so moving.
Do Unto Others as You would have them Do Unto You
In 1892 at Stanford University, two poor students were struggling to pay their fees. They thought of organizing a charity performance of the great pianist of his time, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and use the fund generated to pay the fees of poor students. The pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000 which the students agreed to pay. However, despite their best efforts they could collect only $1,600.
They reported back to Paderewski, and while requesting him to perform, handed over the $1,600 and a post-dated cheque of $400, promising to honor the cheque as soon as possible. But Paderewski tore the cheque, and returned the money, and said, “This is not acceptable.”
As the student went through the shock of disappointment, he explained, “Please take out from this money all your expenses and your fees. Then give me whatever is left.” The students were left overwhelmed by his generosity and kindness.
Decades later, after the World War I; when Poland became independent in 1919, Paderewski was appointed as the Prime Minister of Poland. At that time Poland was facing acute food crisis and millions of Polish people including children were starving. He turned to USA for help.
Herbert Hoover, who later became the 31st President of the United States from 1929 to 1933; was the head of the American Relief Administration, and had gained a reputation as a humanitarian in World War I by leading hunger-relief efforts in Europe. Hoover immediately responded with thousands of tons of food shipped to Poland.
When Paderewski met Hoover in Paris to thank him personally on behalf of millions of Polish who were saved from imminent death. Hoover stopped him and said, “That is all right, Mr. Prime Minister. You may not remember it, but several years ago you helped two students complete their studies in Stanford University. I was one of them.”
What a remarkable story!!
It does not matter whether your act of kindness comes back to you or not, a random act of kindness will give you immense satisfaction. It will enhance your self-worth and motivation that inspires you to make a positive difference in someone’s life; no matter how small it may be.
You become a part of the universe that is interdependent, and every small action of yours may bring a big change in future events. That itself is a perfect reason for an act of kindness.