It can be as simple as allowing a car to pass in front of you, or as grand as donating a large sum of money to charity anonymously.

Everyone is encouraged to promote good will through deeds during Random Acts of Kindness Week, Feb. 13-19.

Area resident Joe Brownell practices the idea of “paying it forward,” but refuses to disclose the particulars.

“When I do a random act of kindness, it is between me, that other person and God,” said Brownell via e-mail. “It diminishes the gift of kindness if I toot my own horn and tell what a great thing I did.”

One example of “horn-tooting” could be that of the tobacco industry giving $100,000 to the American Cancer Association, then spending millions to advertise the fact.

Brownell feels society in general has become desensitized to kindness and polite behavior. Unfortunately, kindness is usually viewed as a weakness, often exploited by people in power, Brownell said.

Brownell may have reason to take heart: A foundation was created based on the same principles he holds so dear.

According to its Web site, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation inspires people to practice kindness and to “pass it on” to others. Its founders, who remain anonymous, provide free educational and community ideas, guidance and other resources to kindness participants through the site at

“Through the dissemination of ideas and the development of materials and programs, we have helped our kindness coordinators - including educators, students, community members, faith groups, service clubs and others - incorporate kindness into thousands of schools and communities,” states the site. “As people tap into their own generous human spirit and share kindness with one another, they discover for themselves the power of kindness to effect positive change.”

The phrase, practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty was originally written by Anne Herbert, an artist writer and peace activist living in Berkely, Calif. It was published in 1982 in the CoEvolution Quarterly, which later became the Whole Earth Review.

In May 1991, San Francisco columnist Adair Lara wrote about Anne Herbert and random acts of kindness. The article was reprinted in Reader’s Digest and the phrase began appearing on posters, coffee mugs and T-shirts.

Larry Clark, a Tahlequah resident, was the recipient of a random act of kindness about the time the phrase was catching on.

“You know, a friend of mine did a really nice thing for me about the time everybody starting saying things about random acts of kindness,” said Clark. “I don’t want to be specific, because that kind of takes the fun out of it, but I will say it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me, and I’ll never forget it.”

Thea Nietfeld, pastor at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tahlequah, is excited about the prospect of people doing nice things for one another.

“I can’t believe it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week,” said Nietfeld. “It comes at a perfect time, since the Tahlequah Peace Fellowship is encouraging the same type of behavior through its Season of Nonviolence: 64 Days of Peace.”

The peace season kicked off Jan. 30 in celebration of the philosophies of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and Nietfeld and members of the Peace Fellowship have been trying to spread the word.

“I attended the Kiwanis Club meeting today,” said Nietfeld. “And I was so happy to learn they had already heard about the campaign.”

Members of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation believe that, as people from different cultures and from all walks of life are joining to spread kindness, they are creating a powerful, synergistic action throughout the world.

“Kindness is its own reward,” said Brownell. “Or you are doing it for the wrong reasons.”

Get Involved

Those interested in participating in Random Acts of Kindness Week or the Season of Nonviolence are encouraged to contact Jane Bond, president, Tahlequah Peace Fellowship at (918) 456-3667.