From Tessa Lloyd at the Junior School
Virtue of the Month for February 2015: Kindness
Kindness. A little can go a long, long way. We live in a fast-paced, competitive world. We are very busy balancing many demands for our time and attention. Individual success is actively sought and promoted. Nevertheless, old fashioned kindness never goes out of style. We love it. 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.
Meanwhile, when we look around us in the media, kindness can be in short supply. Music videos, movies and video games often offer bad behaviour as entertainment. Primetime television gives us many examples of people being very unkind and cruel to each other. Kind behaviour it seems does not get the same ratings. Even if we limit our own children’s exposure to these influences, we know that the negative effects 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.
Kindness is the wonderful, abiding ability to think about the needs of others and show them that we 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. According to educator Michele Borba, kindness must be modeled, inspired, nurtured, and taught. It is a muscle that must be exercised regularly to become strong.
In their classrooms and throughout the school, children will be working in many different ways to spread kindness. The week of February 9th – 15th is Random Acts of Kindness Week (see www.randomactsofkindness.org). The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is an internationally recognized non-profit group founded upon the powerful belief in kindness and dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness. Their work now spans a generation and their research helps us to know that these acts have a profound effect on our happiness. While this initiative provides us with welcome impetus in the month of February, it is our job to keep the light shining on kindness all year. Our freshly sharpened virtue of purposefulness connects beautifully, to ensure kindness is indeed thoughtful, deliberate and sustained.
Quotes to ponder at the dinner table:
“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.” –Martin Luther
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” –The 14th Dalai Lama
“When you plant a lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertiliser or more water or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
If someone listens or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.” –Loretta Girzatlis
”There is a grace in kind listening as well as a grace in kind speaking.” – Anonymous
Tessa Lloyd, Junior School Counsellor