One of the reasons I set up Time for Kindness was to inspire people.
I want to inspire those of us that believe in kindness already. And I want to inspire people who would like to believe in it but are unsure or embarrassed. Because sometimes being kind is portrayed as weak. Or carrying out a kind act is mocked for being fluffy nonsense.
Actually, kindness is incredibly powerful. It connects and unites people. It demonstrates our shared humanity. It illustrates the truth of British MP Jo Cox’s maiden speech in Parliament, in which she said:
We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.
Connecting with others
Since I decided to be braver about speaking up about this, I have noticed several things:
- The more interest I take in kindness, the more I see it in the world around me. It’s like when you decide to buy a red car and suddenly there are red Ford Kas and Nissan Micras everywhere you look. (Actually, I’m guessing it’s like that, I don’t drive!)
- I’m not alone in believing in the power and value of kindness. There are lots of us. As my favourite word is ‘together’, it’s a joy to be part of this movement. I’m delighted to join people like Susie Hills (founder of KindFest), Joolz Casey (co-founder of the #behumankind community), Dr Catherine Crock (founder of the Hush Foundation) and many more. We are all promoting and celebrating kindness and the huge impact it has on individuals and communities.
- This movement is global. So far I’ve had conversations about kindness with people from Canada, Australia and the US as a result of our shared belief. I have been invited on to a US podcast which celebrates all the little things we can do that add up to so much more. This month’s ‘What If’ blog comes from a writer based in Singapore.
See what I mean about shared humanity and connections?
A global concept
I think it’s fascinating that cultures around the world have a concept of kindness in one form or another. The details might vary, but it comes down to the same thing: doing something positive for someone else.
I did a bit of research and these are some of the global examples I discovered:
This word and concept is common across many Southern African cultures. South African leaders Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu used it. The word comes from an Nguni proverb which is often translated as “a person is a person through other persons”. Fundamentally this is about showing kindness and compassion to others to recognise our shared bond as human beings.
Walls of kindness
In 2015 someone anonymously set up a wall of kindness in Mashhad in Iran. This was a space where people could hang up warm clothes for anyone in need to help themselves. On the wall a message in Farsi read: “If you don’t need it, leave it. If you need it, take it.” This idea spread to the rest of the country and beyond. The walls are rooted in Persian culture which reveres the virtues of kindness to strangers.
This is a concept from the Philippines. It is about helping someone with their immediate and temporary needs, such as food, money or shelter. It originally began as a way for family members to help each other and has grown to showing kindness to others more widely.
I found many more examples. I’d highly recommend learning about what’s going on around the world as a way to feel inspired.
Another reason I set up Time for Kindness was to rebalance the narrative that highlights only the negative things that go on. If we could highlight the way that people around the world are already working together in kindness, that would lead to even more collaboration.
This potential for coming together has never felt more important. On the first day of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, Sir David Attenborough said:
If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it.
In this context, believing in kindness to self, to each other and to our planet is no longer optional.
On Friday, I heard Barack Obama on the Graham Norton TV show. He talked about the huge importance of being kind to each other.
And, frankly, if it’s good enough for Barack, it’s good enough for me!
Please do get in touch to tell me about your experiences of kindness around the world or to ask for help in promoting the work that you do to make the world even kinder.
Until next time