… as written for Dubbo Weekender 16 December 2016
Kindness matters more than ever.
When our esteemed editor issued the challenge to contribute my views on what I think has been the most memorable/important/ground breaking news story of 2016, she stopped me in my tracks.
What is THE story? As I ponder this for weeks on end as I go back and forth to Asia, picking up global newspapers in airports, watching TED Talks online and seeing snippets of news from home and around the globe I see a common theme. Kindness matters more than ever. Kind words and actions, however small have caused a ripple effect and been featured in every kind of media. Kindness becomes a story, and begs to be shared. There was the 4 year old in a supermarket who called out “Hey old person! It’s my birthday tomorrow!” embarrassing her mum initially, but creating an important bond that became a deep friendship between a busy modern family and an old man who’d lost his wife 6 months earlier. This was featured on TV and across the internet in article and video format. It’s just one example of the type of moments that occur when we pause and allow ourselves to connect with others.
In a world where people can comment online without being accountable for their harassment and hatred, where tolerance is demanded by people intolerant of another perspective and community connection disintegrates in fear of saying the wrong thing; kindness matters. It actually shines a light in the darkness, a light that restores faith, creates a powerful reminder that you’re not alone, and shifts attention from the fear-grabbing headlines to something positive we can respond to and increase the impact of.
When my Dad recently commented that he needed to stop at the supermarket for chocolate before heading back to Gilgandra, I teased him about ‘needing chocolate’. It wasn’t for him. Since discovering that road workers experience abuse from people who don’t have time to be stopped for their own safety at work sites along the highway, he’s taken to carrying chocolate and/or lollies and fruit to ‘make their day’. He was quick to tell me that it wasn’t his idea, that a friend inspired him by sharing his philosophy that when someone does a kindness to you, repay it doing something kind for 3 other people. I like the maths there. Let’s amplify the good in the world by creating more of it. Shine your light in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.
The most important story of 2016 is that many kind words, deeds and humanitarian efforts have occurred around the world – each one making a difference. They’ve come in the form of a listening ear, a wise and timely word (if it’s not timely it’s not so wise) practical support, or a handful of coins or flowers. They’ve saved lives, encouraged (put courage in people) to not give up, to continue searching for solutions and creating a better world. When all seems dark around you, light a candle.
Cheering you on,
PS. For a beautifully related guest blog, see what my son Ethan wrote here!