What is World Kindness Day?
Observed for the first time in 1998, World Kindness Day promotes expressing kindness in our communities and around the world. World Kindness Day is celebrated on Nov. 13 in various countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
It’s a chance to remember kindness’s power to bring humankind together across political, social, racial and economic boundaries!
How Did World Kindness Day Start?
In 1997, Japan called together nonprofits dedicated to kindness at a conference in Tokyo. The organizations formed a coalition called the World Kindness Movement, which was officially recognized under Swiss law as an NGO in 2019. The mission of the World Kindness Movement (WKM) is “to inspire individuals and connect nations to create a kinder world.”
What Do People Do on World Kindness Day?
Though World Kindness Day is not one of the awareness days officially recognized by the United Nations, like the International Day of Happiness, it is a day of the year when people far and wide act kindly and spread kindness. Some use the occasion to promote human rights, such as fighting violence against children or child trafficking. Others perform random acts of kindness, do good deeds, volunteer in their local communities, say kinds words about loved ones on social media or, in the spirit of World Smile Day, simply smile more.
4 Ways to Celebrate World Kindness Day: Inspiration from the Good Samaritan
In mid-2022, Gallup released their latest annual Global Emotions Report. Its findings are based on nearly 127,000 interviews with adults in 122 countries in 2021 and early 2022.
Gallup’s CEO Jon Clifton shared some remarks on key findings in the report’s introductory pages:
“Negative emotions — the aggregate of the stress, sadness, anger, worry and physical pain that people feel every day — reached a new record in the history of Gallup’s tracking.”
These insights are telling. War, inflation, hunger and the lingering impacts of the pandemic have all seriously impacted how we live and how we feel. Stress and worry fill the hearts and minds of parents who struggle feeding their kids, adults who can’t find employment and countless more whose lives are under threat due to nearby violence or conflict.
At first glance, these challenges can feel overwhelming. How could we possibly respond to pain, fear and sorrow that seem to get worse by the day?
On World Kindness Day, it’s easy to question whether kindness alone is enough.
Many of us associate kindness with niceness — being friendly, smiling at strangers, etc.
In light of the pangs of global hardship, some may see kindness as a passive or somewhat juvenile response.
Despite these connotations, there are many reasons why kindness not only matters, but is a biblical response to our world’s deepest and darkest challenges. To understand why, followers of Jesus can first turn to Scripture.
Scripture offers us helpful insights on innumerable matters of life, work and spiritual discipline. It has much to say on a variety of topics, but perhaps none more than this: love.
Paul’s words on this topic in 1 Corinthians 13 — a popular passage at many Christian weddings — begin with: “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Of all the profound things that could be said about love and its transformative power, this champion of the faith chose to reference kindness right from the start.
Love, according to Paul, is deeply expressed in the form of kindness. World Kindness Day then is not a celebration of cheap social-niceties or passive interest in another’s well-being. Instead, World Kindness Day is an opportunity to express the breadth and depth of God’s kindness and our Savior’s love to our neighbor.
This raises some questions then: How is love best expressed, and who is our neighbor?
In response to these very questions, Jesus offers us a parable: The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
The Good Samaritan is arguably one of the most frequently referenced of Jesus’ parables. It’s a story about many things, among them generosity, neighborliness, self-sacrifice and — undoubtedly — kindness.
This parable, found in the Gospel of Luke, tells of a man who was attacked by robbers while traveling to Jericho. They beat him, stripped him of clothes and left him for dead on the side of the road.
As the story goes, both a priest and a Levite saw his plight and passed right by. It wasn’t until a Samaritan — a member of a completely different ethnic and religious group — showed up that the man in need received some help.
What are the odds?
Scripture says that “When he [the Samaritan] saw him, he took pity on him” (Luke 10:33). He took him to an inn, bandaged his wounds and even paid for his continued care.
After telling this story, Jesus said: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
There’s a lot we can learn from this story. The first lesson of which is that everyone — no matter what separates us — is our neighbor in the eyes of God. The parable models the beauty in a love that takes action. So as we celebrate World Kindness Day, here are three ways to get inspired and live like the Good Samaritan did on the road to Jericho.
Get Close to People in Pain
Scripture tells us that the priest and Levite passed by the man in pain “on the other side” (Luke 10:31-32).
This extra level of detail is telling. These two characters in the narrative didn’t see fit to acknowledge him or even express their sorrow at his situation. They saw him and immediately walked to the opposite side of the road. Instead of coming near, they created distance.
To express any measure of kindness toward someone, we have to lean in. Kindness comes close. It’s intimate. It’s near enough to see the wounds.
Showing kindness starts with being proximate to those around you who are in pain.
Allow Space for Empathy
Scripture says that “When he [the Samaritan] saw him, he took pity on him” (Luke 10:33).
That’s a powerful line — one that’s reminiscent of Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler in Mark 10:21: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
Merriam-Webster defines pity as “sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed or unhappy.”
When stepping into another person’s story, even for a moment, don’t be afraid to feel. Allow space for empathy in your heart. It’s that depth of feeling and compassion that will inspire genuine action. The people you serve will see the difference between the care they receive from you versus someone who helped with a hardened heart.
Anticipate Unknown Needs
The Samaritan, according to Luke 10:35, didn’t just bandage the man’s wounds and head for the hills — he sought care for his future needs as well.
The Gospel writer tells us: “The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have’” (Luke 10:35).
Kindness doesn’t do the bare minimum. It doesn’t have tunnel vision. It doesn’t think just in the here and now. It is merciful. It anticipates unknown needs and looks for ways to help, even when that help hasn’t yet been requested.
Not once in this passage do we hear the injured man ask for a single thing. We just see the Good Samaritan give — not because he has to, but because he chooses to.
Share Blessings With People in Need
A tangible way to celebrate World Kindness Day is by sharing kindness with the most vulnerable: children living in poverty. Sponsoring a child or giving a life-changing gift through the Compassion Gift Catalog are two acts of kindness that will have powerful and long-term impacts.
When you sponsor a child through Compassion, you empower a local church around the world to provide education, health checkups, Scripture lessons, food and much more for a child living in poverty.
And when you shop our charitable gift catalog, you can provide a family in need with transformative gifts such as goats and chickens, sewing classes, newborn care packages and Bibles.
This year on World Kindness Day, do as the Good Samaritan did: choose kindness, just because you can.
Looking for ways to inspire kindness in your children or grandchildren? Try these 21 Kindness Activities and Ideas for Kids!