I have been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about kindness. It seems that kindness and respect at times are sorely lacking in our society. I challenged some of my students about this in a recent school assembly, reminding them that kindness is showing others they are valuable by how we treat them, and that we should treat people the way we want to be treated.
People remember how you treat them. If you are unkind or disrespectful, that’s what people will remember about you. But if you are kind and respectful, that will be what people will remember. Do we want to be people who are known for our kindness and respect in a world where these values don’t seem to mean much anymore? We don’t always get it right all the time, but we can try.
Kindness and respect mean accepting people whose lifestyles, values and beliefs are different to ours. Kindness and respect mean being gracious and attempting to see another’s point of view when you don’t agree. Kindness and respect are treating others the way we want to be treated. Kindness and respect are understanding and believing that all people are equal and deserving of kindness and respect, even when it’s hard. It can be difficult to be kind when someone is being unkind to you. It is difficult to show respect when someone is being disrespectful to you. But treating others unkindly or disrespectfully doesn’t make us the better person. Retaliation, no matter how good it may feel in the moment, is not a long-term answer. Kindness and respect mean looking to see how we can impact the life of another person who may be doing it tough and needing some encouragement or help, without expecting or wanting anything in return.
Next term I will be introducing the “Secret Agent of Kindness” project to my students. It is completely voluntary, and the aim is that the students who choose to participate will learn to think outside of themselves and their needs and start to show kindness and respect to those around them and start to learn to make kindness and respect towards all people a natural part of their lives.
In a world where we can be anything, be kind.