Our world contains an entire spectrum of behaviors and actions, from the biggest acts of charity to the complete opposite. There are a number of reasons at play that have led people to tend to put negativity in the spotlight, but by illuminating the goodness in the world we can create change on both the personal and social levels. Ahead of this year’s Good Deeds Day, we’ve decided to embrace the concept of Faming – shining a light on all that’s good.
Do you recall that IRS officer who was so nice and went out of their way to assist you with some issue? What about that post-office agent who gave you those tips that only a pro knows? There was also that person who happened to pass by and stopped on their own accord to help jump start your car, remember? There are always those who do good deeds, and we are exposed to such positive experiences all the time, some of which linger on in our hearts for many years. But just how impactful are these positive acts in determining the way we perceive reality, and how effective are they in convincing us that the world is filled with grace, charity, and goodness?
For many, good experiences do not paint the world in positivity, because for them these acts of kindness as just small islands in an ocean of injustices. Why? It seems several reasons combine to block our sight from all the good that’s happening around us. First, humans are naturally hardwired to stay clear of danger, which leads us to pay more attention to negative situations. Second, resulting from the first reason, as a society we are more inclined to notice negativity and tend to put it in the spotlight. Nothing attests to this more than Social Media. Another reason is our quick adaptability to comfort, so that any divergence from it simply stands out more.
This explains that, despite the gestures of kindness extended to us by that IRS officer back then, we brush it aside and forget it ever happened. This is especially true when some violent situation goes viral, or when a corruption case explodes all over the news, or even if someone just speeds down our peaceful neighborhood honking away. Some people will argue in favor of this biased selective memory, claiming that emphasis on such negative actions more than on the positive ones is essential for determining the accepted social conventions. But, if you think about it, this is totally lopsided because it only highlights one part of the equation – the unacceptable behavior.
What about positive conduct?
Across the globe, there is a slow surge of organizations that have taken upon themselves to advance the concept of ‘Faming, Instead of Shaming’. The idea here, is to balance the scales and expose another reality by emphasizing the good and the positivity that surrounds us. With Good Deeds Day taking place worldwide on April 11, 2021, we’ve embraced this concept at Ruach Tova, organizers of the global event under the auspices of The Ted Arison Family Foundation, and adopted it as a creative theme that we apply to grow the good in the world, even under the current social distancing restrictions.
This is what Faming is all about, it is a relatively new term that comes from the word Fame, driving us to give the stage and openly praise the good that exists in people hearts and deeds. This approach has won many advocates in the world’s most prestigious organizations, such as MIT, for example. The ivy-league university’s Political Science faculty launched a research lab aimed at finding ways to improve public policies, positively transforming the accepted code of conduct of governmental bodies.
Experiments that took place in several countries have shown that by openly applauding civil servants who took positive action and by putting them on a pedestal, a real shift in behavioral norms takes place in their society. An international program has been devised involving a collaborative effort between several entities that bring positive actions to the forefront, especially in negatively-portrayed environments as official federal bodies. A Ted Talk by Blair Glencorse, who is one of the initiators of the venture, describes this project that included a reality-style American Idol program with a special twist – Integrity Idol, which showcased ‘talent’ who are civil servants excelling in taking positive action that better serves their public.
In Nepal, this initiative had awarded an Education Ministry official who transformed the norm and uplifted the entire system in one of the country’s regions, transporting it from a state of failed disfunction into excellence and leadership. After his story received coverage on national television where he was presented as a local hero, the ripple effect was immediate and the entire country followed suit. Most importantly, the message that was sent out to children across Nepal was ‘Thus shall it be done to the man in whom the King delights to honor’, meaning that they were shown a new norm that shined a light at the positive side of the axis, rebalancing the scaleד of their reality.
Glencorse claims that this was especially impactful for young minds. He explains that the program created a positive narrative to which young children can easily connect, and this enabled them to experience and make sense of a different reality that they can be part of and support, paving a path forward for social change at large. By emphasizing the positive aspects of society, children get a chance to begin their life on the right foot.
This year on Good Deeds Day, on top of all the giving and volunteering that takes place, a key theme is to openly praise positivity and goodness. For example, snap a picture of someone helping another carry their groceries, and do this just as fast as you would have snapped at someone for behaving aggressively; give a shout-out to that public servant who helped you, and do this just as openly as you would have criticized an inefficient service provider for putting you on hold too long. By giving credit to others and openly appreciating their care, you are giving them a well-deserved compliment while also helping the world see reality from a fresh perspective – of positivity, which is often overshadowed by the complete opposite. This holds the power to rebalance people’s point of view about our world, so that alongside those things that do require our attention for improvement, you will be making very apparent that there is also so much good around us all.