A little bit of kindness

I understand that today is World Kindness Day. It seems like a good day to reflect on what it would mean to organize our society around kindness. What would that look like? Imagine what it would look like to support yourself via an economy rooted in kindness. What about housing? What about food distribution? I get excited when I think about what our education system could look like. Or health care — oh, goodness, healthcare rooted in kindness.

I suspect our political debates would be very different if the organizing principle was kindness. What types of people would we be attracted to electing? How would we treat those we don’t understand, or those who are different from us? What would our response to seeing someone exepriencing homeless be? I’m very curious what our gun policies would look like. Take it even a step further — what would the Constitution of the United States say if kindness was at its center?

I know I’d have to make some changes in my life in order to have kindness be the central driving principle. I think most of us would have to. As a society, I think we’d have to re-envision, well, pretty much everything. Transit. The social safety net. Taxes. The military and our foreign policy. Our approach to interfacing with the natural world.” I suspect that we would think about sustainability” very differently. What I mean by this that we’d have a very different answer to the question, What exactly are we trying to sustain?”

I wonder what our neighborhoods would look — and feel — like. Sporting events would probably take on a completely different tenor. How would we view addiction and mental illness? Might we see a decrease in mental illness? A curious thought. How would we treat ourselves? Would we need a self help industry? Would we need to buy so much? Indeed, our orientation would probably shift away from consumerism and toward an engaged citizenry. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in a kind world?

Okay, I think my point is coming across. It’s safe to say that we don’t center kindness in the world today. Instead, we make a day of it. We raise our awareness to the importance of kindness. But we stop short of complete social overhaul.

It’s kind of ironic to me that World Kindness Day is falling on the first day of public hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry. It’s an event that is rooted in anything but kindness. It’s easy to point the finger at Trump and say, Well, he’s not very kind, is he?” I’d ask, however, just how kind is the other side?” We are living in a time where we have so deeply divided from one another that we can’t see the ways in which we are behaving exactly as those we see as our enemies.

I’m not saying we should be push overs. In fact, I’m not even saying we should be nice. But I do think we should be kind. At least, we should find our way toward kindness. More and more I’ve come to believe that we won’t be able to solve the significant problems we face as a society without this sort of shift.

That said, it’s just the beginning of a deeper conversation, one that asks the question: why, exactly, is it so difficult to create a society rooted in kindness? I think there’s an answer to this question, and it’s a tough one. I’ve written about this a teeny tiny bit. There’s so much to explore in it.

In the meantime, happy World Kindness Day.

I mean that.

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