What a year 2020 has been! Who could have predicted that we would be living through a pandemic and that we would have seen the fault lines in inequalities widen, particularly amongst those in our communities who are disproportionately impacted by this wretched disease? We have also seen the spectre of racism haunt our communities once again, particularly highlighted with the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent reactions.
As we currently find ourselves navigating through the second wave of this pandemic it strikes me that the current mood seems very different to the first wave. During that first wave of spring 2020 I sensed very much a ‘we are in this together’ sentiment, particularly evident in the regular ‘clap for carers’. Second time around I am sensing something altogether different. There seems to be a much more polarised view, a push to ‘take sides’, a sense that somehow, something, somewhere is broken. We see this in topics such as mask wearing, self- isolating, social distancing, pro or anti vaccine, trusting or distrusting data and even whether the Covid -19 pandemic is real or not. The ‘battle lines’ seem to be drawn in the sand! The issue with ‘battle lines’ is that they often remain in the sand long after the battle is over and imbed themselves in our collective memory, causing untold and unnecessary long-term damage.
How do we move on? How do we begin to rebuild?
Our default response can be to look to agencies or government to resolve the issue. Policy change, increased financial investment or new laws are often seen as the answer. I suggest that a more meaningful and sustainable approach is to embrace self -reflection and in a sense, go back to basics. I propose that what is need now is something that at infants’ school I was told was a vital building block to ‘getting on’ and that is KINDNESS.
Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Words and actions that we often associate with kindness are affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care. Going back to basics can be seen as to simple, naïve, or unrealistic, but I would say that displaying genuine kindness is an act of courage in this challenging time. In fact, research shows that acts of kindness and generosity brings about lasting wellbeing in all parties involved.
How can I practice kindness?
How about opening my eyes to people in need and noticing when a helping hand is needed? Helping to carry a load that is becoming too much to bear. Do not underestimate the power of kind words.
Celebrating the success of others is a generous act of kindness. Do you minimize the success, not bring attention to it, or bring up all the problems with the success? Kindness is to be openly happy for the other person. Looking for the best and not worst in a person is so important.
Kindness includes being kind to yourself. Do you treat yourself kindly? Do you speak gently and kindly to yourself and take good care of yourself?
As we continue to navigate our way through this uncharted territory, let us not forget that one of the greatest things that we can, in good conscience, pass on to others is kindness.
As is often the case Sesame Street seems to hit the nail on the head 🙂