Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

Be Nice: It’s More Important than Ever.

March 26, 2017

Be Nice: It’s More Important than Ever.

There is an epidemic of nastiness in our world. It was evident in this week’s London attack at Westminster when an innocent Muslim woman who walked by the injured/dead pedestrian on Westminster Bridge was trolled for being callous and indifferent to the suffering around her. She wasn’t being anything of the sort but the immediate and vile on-line spewing of vitriol was as ever a knee jerk reaction to an image that suggested a great many things, but was positioned as something to react negatively to. And so people did.

Why are we so happy to take the nasty position? To attack instead of saying nothing? Why do we prefer to be unpleasant instead of kind? Is it simply the anonymity of the cyber-world or is there something deeper and blacker lurking in us all?

What is disturbing from my point of view is that this epidemic is becoming more evident in the young beasties I interact with every day. There seems to be something in the air that is infecting them too. Yes, students have always had a robust relationship with each other: bullying is not a new problem, there have always been cliques, the cool kids, those on the outer. But there seems to be an increasingly callous nastiness to each other: interactions that go beyond teasing, beyond banter. There’s an edge to how they interact at the moment. A harsh disregard for the hurt that is being inflicted on others – be it physical or verbal. If I say something they look at me as if I am mad – it’s okay Miss they know I don’t mean it.

Is this true? Am I missing something here? Is it okay?

If it is okay then we are in a terrible way. Young people who don’t know how to treat each other, who think being casually rude or unkind is acceptable, who don’t actually care about someone else’s feelings, even if it is a friend. But it’s not just young people at school, it is people of all ages, from all over the place. You’re on-line, you read the articles and the comments sections. You know how rude and aggressive people have become. It’s almost expected, isn’t it – get on-line and make as outlandish a comment as possible and wait for the responses so you can get even more outraged. We saw this at its worst (best?) during the recent US election when the comments about Hilary especially were completely beyond the pale. We know of women on Twitter and other places who are trolled with comments wishing they were raped or their children killed.

When did we become some vile, so reprehensible?

The anonymity and comments boards have unleashed a monster that is now utterly out of control. The lack of accountability of these people is clear. Yes, some get prosecuted but the vast majority does not. Freedom of speech is a two edged sword and we have allowed the dark side to over-take us. We seem to have forgotten that being free to speak does not equate with being free to abuse all and sundry.

What should we be doing about this?

Parents must be more responsible for their children’s moral education, for making them into decent citizens, who know right from wrong and the importance of thinking before speaking or acting. Parents need to monitor and restrict their child’s on-line interactions. Not just because it is dangerous out there, but because it is de-humanizing them. The more time a child spends on-line, the less they are able to interact effectively with others – they lose the ability to read and understand emotions. They lose the ability to converse effectively, to listen, to share, to understand that the world does not revolve around them.

Those who run the various social media platforms need to do a great deal more about how they police and punish what is posted on-line. Hate-crimes are all very well, but the everyday hatred that is spewed on various platforms needs greater attention. I’m not sure why Zuckerberg etc don’t get it, why they obsess about breast feeding mothers and turn a blind eye to the myriad other vile and abusive images and messages on their platforms. They need to step up and exercise more moral integrity and not just concern themselves with getting richer at the expense of the moral and ethical decline of the population.

We, ourselves, need to be more vigilant. Challenge young people about their behaviour. Make them read. Yes, I know you are not surprised by this coming from me, but there is a huge amount of research that links reading fiction with being more empathetic and better at getting on with people, and more successful in life. Reading matters more than ever. As a parent take that iPad out of their hands and put a book there. You could even read along with them. Perhaps you need to read more too, more fiction not just shit articles on line that do nothing for your neurons either.

We need to turn away from the noise of hatred ourselves. We need not to support it – call it our where we see it. Not engage in on-line battles; not accept the bias of the media.

We need to be nice – a terrible soft pastel word, much under-rated but incredibly important now. We mustn’t just think that we are, as many people do, but act as if we are. Indulge in acts of kindness, for strangers, but especially for those you love. Say something thoughtful, something kind.

Be positive, see the good in the world as much as you can. (Yes, I know it’s hard but it’s worth trying.) Smile, believe that things will get better, actively work towards making things better; grow things, encourage others, read more; be fully informed, don’t make snap judgments.

If we don’t do something to stem the tide of nastiness, of hatred and vitriol then the world will drown in violence and fear and that’s not a world I want anyone I love about to live in. (Images from Private Collection)

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Just Be Kind

June 6, 2015

It is such a simple thing – kindness. And such a powerful thing. But there is so little of it about. Think on this: are you a kind person? Could you do better?

As we look around our world kindness and compassion seem to be in short supply. The news and FB feeds are full of cruelty to homeless people, refugees, animals, each other: stories of rape and war, death and casual indifference to suffering (especially you, Tony Abbott and David Cameron). Perhaps in this increasingly divided world where the rich and powerful and violent are increasingly holding sway it is time for the rest of us, the majority of us, to proceed in kindness, to see if we can make a difference.

Farm-orchard

Kindness to strangers

Why not drop a coin or two in the homeless person’s cup – why not take the time to say hello to them? Don’t assume they are so very different to you.

Stand up for someone on the train, tube or bus. Let someone go in front of you in the queue in the supermarket, let someone else have the better parking space. Open the door for someone.

Smile at random strangers for no reason. Pay someone a compliment if there is something about them that you find pleasing. I can tell you when people tell me they love my hair it makes me smile and feel better about the world.

Say thank you to the bus driver, the shop assistant – they may be doing their job but it’s a nice to show some appreciation.

Remember, you don’t know what their lives are like, a random act of kindness may make all the difference to them.

 

Kindness to colleagues

We spend a great deal of our lives at work, often years with other people, more time with them than our families it seems. So surely it’s not so hard to be pleasant, to be thoughtful and considerate in the work-place? Yet increasingly it’s become an adversarial environment, more like Game of Thrones, where it’s every man/woman for him/herself, with increasing levels of treachery and cunning. Where did this culture come from? Why are so many people only out for themselves, or wanting to cut others down?

I find it amazing in my profession, where we are meant to care for the kids, that so many up the food chain, patently do not. They say they do, but in the way they treat colleagues and manage matters it is clear that they have no care or compassion for anyone, so what are they doing in Education?

I won’t even mention the current Education Secretary, who is another in a long line of idiots who persistently crap on teachers, instead of praising and appreciating the dedication of most of us.

Why are so many teachers dropping from stress? Why do so many young graduates not stay in the profession? Because it is not a kind profession, because compassion and caring for your team, your colleagues, is not seen as the way forward. Because if you falter, fail in any way, you are seen as weak – you are the problem and you must go.

In fact, if you are working in such a place then you should go – find a place where management care about their team, their staff and you will feel valued and perform so much better and won’t that be the best thing for the kids, or the clients, or the business you work for?

 

Kindness to family & friends

This should be so obvious I need not mention it. But recent events remind me that we are often more careless with those closest to us. Kindness is not a given in family or with friends.

Being close means we see each other’s faults and over time and during intense events – such as holidays or weddings, funerals or moving across the world – we see the faults more clearly and sometimes we react badly. Sometimes we expect too much from others. Sometimes we need to think about what we are doing in a relationship – what does this friendship mean; why is this family member so important to me?

Patience is an essential part of kindness and is crucial in close relationships, as is forgiveness. People are foolish (as a wise child once told their granddad) and say and do foolish things. They are also thoughtless. But if we react in the same way, especially when we know better, how does that help anyone?

friends

 

Kindness to animals (and other desperate creatures)

I do not want to see pictures of damaged and brutalized animals on my FB feed. I care not that many of these stories end well, I am upset by these images. Yes, like many, these pictures have a greater impact on me than boatloads of desperate refugees. I am aghast at what is happening to refugees and could not imagine the horrors of their plight but there is something about dumb animals, creatures that are dependent on us to look after them and do the right thing that cuts to the heart.

I loved Zanz (my GSD) with all my heart. I do not understand why anyone would knowingly and wantonly be cruel to an animal. It seems indicative of a much larger problem in our society, where cruelty, not kindness rules the planet.

It’s simple – don’t have an animal if you are not going to treat it correctly. And if you come across strays or animals suffering then don’t ignore them. You could even rescue a puppy yourself.

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Kindness to yourself

Not last because it is least, but because this is important. Kindness comes from feeling strong yourself, from feeling good about who you are and your place in the world. Kindness to yourself recognizes your own humanity, your own infinite ability to fuck things up, but to let it go, forgive yourself. You cannot be kind to others, if you cannot be kind to yourself.

Kindness is about forgiveness, about recognizing that the world is a harsh and often brutal place, but we don’t have to embrace that. Kindness should be the new black, the new cool. Kindness to others makes them feel better and you know what, it makes you feel better too. It’s a simple thing but oh, so effective.

 

As Glen Campbell told us years ago –

You got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness

Just shine your light for everyone to see

And if you try a little kindness then you’ll overlook the blindness

Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

Dear Santa

December 6, 2014

I’m not going to waste your time by asking for world peace, although it really would be a good thing. Instead perhaps when you’re distributing presents across the world you could do a bit of a redistribution of wealth and equality as well. Now that would be something worth having for Christmas. But perhaps I need to lower my expectations a tad?

pinky & the tree

I would like to ask for a better world, a kinder, less menacing and threatening world. Too many people live in fear these days – actual bodily fear as well as cyber-threats. Why have we become so ugly to each other, Santa? When did nasty become our default mode? Why do we have proliferation of TV shows where we vote people off? Why is so much cast in the negative, thank you politicians of all persuasions. Why do people feel they can spew bile and venom on the internet, just because they are hidden, miles away from the person they are bullying or threatening? I know it’s a fine line between free speech and totalitarian repression but surely we’re smart enough to find it again and stay there?

Can all bullies be struck down now – is that too much to ask, really, for a better world?

 

I want the planet left alone too. I want this endless exploitation of its resources to slow. I want there to be a move away from profit at all costs, to the planet herself and to her peoples. There’s not going to be much left if the greedy and the corrupt are allowed to pursue their aims. I despair of the future, Santa, what can we do?

xmas snow

I do want a just world. A place where your gender, your religion, your place of birth does not define your life, your chances. Why, in the twenty-first century is there so much poverty, inequity, and violence – most of it launched at the most vulnerable in our world? Once I naively thought that politicians were there for the people, the ordinary people, especially in places like England and Australia. But it’s all too obvious that the ordinary people all over the world do NOT have a voice; do NOT matter any more. The austerity movement is alive and well and crucifying the many for the few. Ah me, it is a nasty little world.

T&P Xmas

So Santa I want three things for the world:

1.Kindness to become our mode de jour

2.Equality of opportunity for all, no matter where, or who

3.For people to get the presents they deserve – I’m hoping for a Karmic Klaus response here, Santa, and I have a bit of a list if you’re interested.

 

For myself, just a few simple things:

1.For my family to remain healthy and happy: keep living large lives – always feel the love and know the joy they bring me

2.For my friends to remain my friends and have good lives for many years to come

3.To win lotto or get a publishing contract for my amazing book (Ophelia, if you’re interested, Santa – something you could drop down chimneys as presents next year) so I can leave the world of Education and work behind once and for all and live a gentler, sweeter life myself!

family xmas

What do you want for Christmas then? Think global, then act local. Merry Christmas, dear friends, xx

(Images courtesy Private Collection)

Be Kind To Yourself

May 10, 2014

This is one of those are you looking after yourself epistles, like being calm and being positive. So, are you being kind to the rest of the world but not yourself? Perhaps you need to stop for a little while this weekend and focus on you.

Where are the pitfalls in your life?

I want you to think about rules of 3, in this case: work rest and play. Your day is meant to divide into 3 pieces of 8 – just like a good pirate. But I bet it isn’t. I bet your lack of self-kindness starts with this hard won division. This is what the eight hour day represents, what the 40 hour week was about, what the union movement introduced so that we had a balanced life, but do you??

beach

Work will be taking the lion’s share of your time. It’s taking its toll, you are working too many hours, you’re going in when you’re not well, you don’t know what a weekend is anymore. This is not good, this is not kindness, this excessive work scene many of us have going, is killing us. Step back from the excessive demands, step back into a manageable space. Work hard, by all means, do what you are paid to do, do your best. But remember it’s work, not life and unless you are CEO of the world, then it’s really a means to an end. Cut yourself some slack, don’t work every hour the Lord sends. He doesn’t want you to! And it really doesn’t make you a better person, in fact it probably makes you a less patient, less tolerant, and – dare I say – angry person.

Rest is vital to health. It means we recharge, regenerate and are refreshed to start another day. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you sleeping well? Are your dreams pleasant lands of joyfulness or are you plagued with horrors and darkness where you’re stabbing your former boss to death and then picking the shrapnel from your own belly in agony? Rest means turning off the noise, moving away from the world so you can chill, just be. Rest can be you and a book, a glass of wine and a box set, a sleep in on Saturday. Rest is meant to be soothing, peaceful: it’s what we all need to be full and functioning human beings. Lack of sleep is one of those things that sends people mad: it’s the easiest torture there is. Remember life with small babies and how you would murder for eight hours uninterrupted sleep? Do not underestimate the importance of sleep.

rest

Play is another of those things that gets eaten up by work. In fact some weeks our whole life seems to be lurching from one work episode to another. You must stop. You must play – and this isn’t just sitting at the pub drinking and whinging. Play can be so many things – sport, exercise, gardening, sewing, knitting, playing games (board, okay, even computer games), visiting galleries, going to shows, baking amazing cakes, being with those you cherish, etc. Play is about getting away from work, about doing things that you enjoy, that bring you happiness. Play can be as simple as cooking a lovely meal of an evening and talking with your family. Play should take you miles from your work, metaphorically and literally.

Play hard means you’ll sleep hard and then work a whole lot better. 

So, being kind to yourself is giving yourself a break. You are allowed a little time for yourself out of your hectic existence. So this weekend and next and next – stop, drop and just do what you want. You may only need an hour but be kind to yourself and you’ll find you’re a whole lot kinder to the rest of the world, and the rest of the world might just be kinder back…

Here are some ideas

Have a long bubble bath, perhaps a glass of bubbly and some music while you soak

Have a massage

Read for the morning in bed

Read the Sunday papers from cover to cover

Have a glass of wine in the afternoon sun

Go for a long walk in the park or the woods

Go to the movies

Buy a new pair of shoes

Eat a whole Toblerone (but don’t feel guilty)

Allow yourself a whole day off study

Go to a garden centre and buy some flowers

Go to the beach and have a paddle

Have a nap under a spreading tree

Watch your favourite weepy movie and have a good cry

Hang out with your pet, the best way to be kind

Play your music really loud, sing and dance as if the world IS watching

Have a meal with your favourite person in the whole world

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Being kind means not doing as much as doing, but remember you must not feel guilty about this otherwise there is no kindness. The world won’t end if you leave things be – perhaps someone else will pick up the slack and be kind to you too!

Don’t wash up, or clear the table

Don’t do the washing

Don’t clean the house

Don’t answer your phone after 6pm

Don’t mark those books

Don’t write that report

Don’t clean the car

Don’t mow the lawn

Don’t worry about anything – the little things that dog your life, or the big things – an hour off worrying is probably the kindest thing you can do for yourself!

How would you be kind to yourself? (Images from Private Collection)