(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Recently you may have read the news stories about how Aegis Living CEO Dwayne Clark paid off the Walmart layaways for 110 Washington families this Christmas. Clark, along with other notable celebrities such as Tyler Perry, Kid Rock, and Glenn Beck have referred to their donations as “Random Acts of Kindness” and “Paying it Forward.”
Certainly nobody would ever have an objection to these men doing such an unselfish thing, right? Think again. But first, let me rewind a bit.
Clark is a special person to me, a friend, a mentor, and a person I truly admire. So when I have a chance to read anything about him, I might just read the story twice. This time I made the mistake of reading the comments.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as comment after comment on this story were overwhelmingly negative. Nasty things. Questions about his intent or his motivation.
“Just another rich person showing off”
“This is just a publicity stunt”
“That amount of money is nothing to him”
My heart hurt. This isn’t true at all. I know this man, I have seen how he works and thinks. This man has done so much for me that I almost felt compelled to reply to each and every nameless, faceless person who used a fake name to say mean things. But I took the higher road instead.
What kind of message are we sending when a person does something nice for random strangers, and we mock, condemn, or question their motives? When we condemn random acts of kindness, what is it we are actually supporting? Who cares WHY someone might do a nice thing?
Where are the people whose reaction to reading this story pictured the delight of a person finding out that all the money the scraped together to provide Christmas for their families could be spent on something else?
I guess we could blame things like social media and the age of the internet for creating this culture of unchecked negativity and stone throwing. What I am most concerned about is that if we continue to mock and question the people who are doing good deeds, will people be reluctant to do them in the future?
I am blessed to have a chance to work around, near, and with some people who are true professionals and unbelievably kind human beings at the same time — many who have been blessed with what the average American would consider a small fortune. The overwhelming majority of these men and women do amazing things with their wealth, connections, and celebrity status when nobody is looking.
Clark told me he grew up with a single mom, in a modest family, and he remembers his mother putting things on layaway. That was his motivation. There was no press conference. No hype or hoopla, just a nice man doing a nice thing because he could.
There are plenty of negative stories in the world. So if I can ask one favor of everyone this holiday season, please reward a positive story with a positive comment, emoji, or otherwise happy reaction.
The day we let the trolls take away random acts of kindness is the day humanity takes a giant step backwards.