Virtue of the Month for May and June 2012: Kindness

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Kindness. Where does it fit in our fast-paced, competitive and wired world? The answer is “everywhere… “.

We are all so very busy balancing competing demands for our time and attention. Instant gratification holds wide appeal. Individual success is actively sought and promoted. Nevertheless, values like old-fashioned kindness do not go out of style. We love kindness. A little goes a long, long way. Philosophers and poets expound its virtues. Entire movements are devoted to it. It is celebrated in literature, and regarded as a critical component of character.

Media, however, offers us bad behaviour as entertainment. Music videos, movies and video games are all culpable, but we don’t have to look further than primetime TV for examples of people being very unkind and cruel to each other. Pro-social behaviour it seems, does not get the same ratings.

Even if we limit our own children’s exposure to these influences, the effects of this on-screen modeling unfortunately permeate our culture in destructive and insidious ways. The incidence of childhood teasing and being mean to each other has risen sharply in the last few decades. Nurturing the essential virtue of kindness may be one of the best possible ways to stem this tide. According to educator Michele Borba, kindness must be modeled, inspired, nurtured, and taught. It operates as a muscle that must be exercised regularly to become strong.

Kindness is the wonderful, abiding ability to think about the needs of others and show them that you are concerned about their welfare and feelings. Acts of kindness contribute to our morality, humaneness and civility. They are based on our intentions of doing good rather than harm, or just doing nothing at all!

Since its inception in 1995, the “Random Acts of Kindness” organization has thrived, influencing millions worldwide. Its aim is to help people create a better world by spreading awareness and increasing engagement in kind actions, such as giving the elderly the gift of music, cleaning up graffiti, or even holding a door open for someone. These acts may be random, but they are not accidental. They may be small, but their effects can be far reaching. The stories are heart-warming. Check out their website at www.randomactsofkindness.org.

Let’s see how we can put that kindness muscle to work while the school year winds itself to a close. Let’s feel the glow that radiates between us and the recipient of our kindness. Let’s model kindness for our children knowing all the while that what we sow, we also will reap!

Ask your children what their practice of kindness would look like if…

You start teasing your brother and you can see he is getting upset?

Some children you have been playing with are ridiculing a boy who has big ears?

Your father seems tired recently?

Tessa Lloyd, Junior School Counsellor

 

 

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Becky Anderson
Becky Anderson is Director of the Junior School. She has also held the position of Director of Leadership Development at SMUS.

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