Yesterday, 11th November, was Remembrance Day; an important date in the Australian calendar, and now for me it brings an extra reason to remember. For this date now also marks the anniversary of having been awarded 2017 Tasmanian Australian of the Year.
Tomorrow, 13th November 2017, is the first birthday of my first grandchild; Sage by name – and because his sophist mother and father have much to do with it, undoubtedly also Sage by nature. In due course.
It also happens that tomorrow is World Kindness Day.
And it was on today’s date, 12th November, one year ago, that I decided that if I had any message to bring with me in this extraordinary position as Tasmanian Australian of the Year, that the message would be about kindness.
Because when we are kind to another person, our actions clearly show that person that they have been held in our mind with benevolence.
It is beautiful to know that one is held in the mind of another in this way. It is enriching. Esteem-building. Expanding of confidence. Expanding of joy. Opening of hope.
I felt motivated to especially talk about kindness during this year because I have learned that kindness is the powerful and beautiful interactive oil that makes it possible for me to do my work – in the clinic, in the community, and in the prison. It is free – and it enables, transforms, and is easily given.
Why would we not give it? Ask yourself this question. Then seek your answer; being gentle on yourself.
Kindness brings a wonderful double parcel of benefits. Both parties to kindness receive its goods. Positive connection is reciprocal.
We human beings were born for such connection. It forms us. It maintains us. Without it we cannot thrive. We can scarcely survive.
With it – and especially when it is positive and abundant – we flourish!
And so do those around us.
Positive human connection is the great enabler, the great ameliorator, the great healer. And kindness captures the key elements: positive, connection.
We can never be too sophisticated to need it.
We owe kindness to each other.
This is the purpose of World Kindness Day. To remind us that we owe kindness to each other for our mutual health and wellbeing. That we owe it for our shared joy. That it is free. That we can produce it. It starts in our thoughts and our openness.
World Kindness Day can also give us pause to remind us that the health of our social institutions depends upon our mutual kindness as we work within them. And in widening circles, that the solutions to the problems which press upon us as inhabitants of this earth require collaborative conversations between these social institutions and amongst the world’s nations. Healthy collaboration requires relational trust. And relational trust requires positive other-mindedness with action – also known as… well… kindness.
Sage turns one tomorrow. I would wish for him to grow up in a world that richly knows the power of kindness in theory and in practice; a world whose inhabitants can talk openly about kindness as a resource we must continue to strengthen. Like everything that is complex, this will take attention and intention. Kindness is well worth the effort. It is the antidote to hate*.
Be kind. Encourage others to be so, too. Your grandchildren depend upon it. We all do.
There are three steps to kind communication:
1) be kind in your next interaction;
2) reflect on this;
3) return to Step 1)… and repeat.
*Cassy O’Connor MP, Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, made this comment to me. She’s right.