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So what is kindness?
Is kindness attention?
Is kindness humanity?
Is kindness vulnerability?
Is kindness humility?
Is kindness awareness?
Is kindness courage?
Is kindness improvisation?
Is kindness selfish?
Is kindness indulgent?
Are we avoiding kindness as a form of vulnerability; to acknowledge we can’t make it all better; because we feel if we listen to a long list of patient’s woes, we will then be responsible for sorting them all out?
Rather, we need to encourage a coaching relationship: where we are kind in our listening, allowing the patient space to share or express their thoughts without taking them on as our burden to cure.
“Attack with financial weapons”
“Fight social injustice”
“Tear down the barriers”
Where is the language of kindness in here?
Reducing inequality is depicted almost universally as a battle.
If intelligent kindness is the solution, we need a new lexicon.
Kindness is personal; it is felt; experienced; there is a connection between the giver and receiver. If we rely on the state, the remote deduction of income via taxes, the algorithmic redistribution via anonymous institutions…we lose that. Connectedness seems key for the positive aspects to be felt by both, or even either, party.
So if intelligent kindness is to underpin social change, how do we integrate the personal element with the undeniably important role ‘the state’ has in coordinating our acts.
So far, this all brings to mind a conversation I had many years ago in the playground. There was some unseemly competitiveness around reading levels of various 4/5 year olds. In one (dominant) camp were the ‘why isn’t the teacher pushing, stretching my child? They have been stuck on level 11 for weeks!’ Continual improvement, ascending the reading tree, staying ahead of others…
..the other camp were the ‘once you can read, you can read, there are no medals’ brigade. It was lonely. It mattered more, I proposed, that the whole class could read something, so they could all move on at the same rate next year; that quality of teaching in a class where all could access the written aspects of curriculum would allow more time for the teacher to ‘teach’. SO yes I’d rather the teacher spent time sweeping along those who were almost there, than devoting time to the front runners. Who cares how far ahead that group are…its keeping others from falling behind which will ultimately impact the class progress.
SO where are we as a society? What state is our ‘health literacy’ in? And where does this fit with intelligent kindness?
Kindness is not a side issue: it is the GLUE which holds us all together.
Kindness evokes mistrust – what are your underlying motives? What are you expecting in return? Are you pursing self-righteous piety? “Doing it for the ‘likes’” in the parlance of the youth…
To be kind is to be bold.
Social Darwinism appears to be the antithesis of intelligent kindness – yet our interdependency and the reciprocity of kindness lies at the centre of ‘evolution’ as a species.
Measurement: if we are asking individuals to make change; be different; behave with kindness and kinship: then the system in which they work needs to adapt the way it measures success.
How can the systems in which kind people work promote, support and enhance it effectiveness – make it easy to be kind. The system presents opportunities, not barriers, to kindness.
And why is it that kindness and productivity are seen as opposing forces? As if by taking time to be kind is distracting from the industrial business of ‘making people better’.
Kindness is a SKILL – not a feeling. How do we classify, recognise, value, head-hunt kindness in the same way as leadership, time-management, conflict resolution. Kindness is perceived as naive, fragile, virtuous. Pitied even – kind people are showing some sort of weakness or vulnerability. How can we shift it to become the root, foundation stone, ballast of our lives.