Opinion: In this global pandemic, public addresses by international leaders are now commonplace.
It’s not unusual to switch from one media channel to another, one country to another, and find the same theme running through all their briefings.
We wake up wondering what the numbers will be for our region today. We tune in to hear the latest advice for our country. We follow the global statistics and we hear the sorrow and triumph, worry and hope, of other countries around the world.
Covid-19 has infiltrated everything
But here in New Zealand, a trend has begun in the messages being spoken over and over by our current heads. Various ministers of Parliament step in to address their respective spheres of influence, and all of them urge us to follow safe practices, adhere to health guidelines, etc.
They all have different perspectives in working towards the common goal of eradicating this virus from our shores, but there is one mandate which they all agree on and speak tirelessly from their platforms:
Have courage and be kind
Yes, that is a direct quote from the 2015 Cinderella movie. Back when getting to the ball in a magic pumpkin was the most prominent problem a person might face.
2020 has been, in the words of our own Prime Minister, “frankly terrible.”
Lockdowns, shifting alert levels, mask wearing, travel restrictions, social distancing, cancellation of events, rising cases of domestic violence, job losses, and the generic rise in mental struggles such as anxiety and depression.
Not to mention the virus itself, and the subsequent suffering and death.
This is not a year we’ll be eager to repeat.
And yet, in the midst of all this heaviness, kindness is in.
Nowhere have we seen this more powerfully than in the Christchurch community in the South Island, where families of the murder victims of the 2019 terrorist attack gathered to face the killer of their loved ones in court.
In the midst of Covid-19’s chaos and impact, they carried yet another layer of loss and grief.
But they didn’t face it alone.
Outside the courthouse, multiple Kiwis gathered – a mix of nationalities, genders, and religions – to hold up signs of solidarity, to sing songs of love and support, to offer hugs to strangers who were publicly suffering all over again.
Because kindness is a universal value
It has nothing to do with personality or gender, age or religion or race. Kindness is a human quality that anyone can practice, cultivate and live by.
Too often it is ignored, dismissed, seen as weak or unintelligent. But it is none of these things.
Kindness is, in fact, the most powerful resource in a society.
It fosters trust. It builds community. It paves the way for progress, which cannot be made without respect and insight and open-minded collaboration. All things that are direct results of kindness.
We are all too familiar with the dissention that gossip breeds. The crumbling of values when selfishness takes over. The halt of human productivity, enlightenment and even history, when cruelty becomes the basis of our transactions.
There is enough hate and backstabbing in this world
An act of kindness. A word of kindness. A person whose entire vibe IS kindness.
These are the tools we need to overcome disease, to rise above pettiness, to lift our entire race by lifting the person who stands beside us.
Because kindness empowers.
It strengthens. It flourishes. It raises both the giver and the receiver.
And now, in the chaos and uncertainty of 2020, kindness is being acknowledged more and more.
It is a trait we notice when it is present – and when it is not – in the way worldwide leaders handle this crisis. It is taking over our personal interactions and conversations. We’re even seeing it play out in arenas where previously it may have been left to lie dormant.
Kindness is now so “in” it has become something we praise publicly on social media.
Kindness is the latest trend
As the world seems to be burning all around us, we are learning that triumph and success, prowess and even professionalism, do not have to hide any kindness that may be in their layers.
A legitimate tool. A methodology which could change the face of humanity, if only each one of us made the conscious choice to open its many channels and funnel it out into our workplaces and homes, our minds and our actions and our hearts.
And now it’s time to take it one step further.
To make kindness more than a fleeting trend. To offer it freely. To speak it intentionally.
To teach our children to value it fiercely. To train our own voices to hold the colours of kindness with pride.
Until kindness is such an ingrained part of our humanity, we don’t know how to step into a day without it.
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Emma is an Italian-South African with a New Zealand passport and an international heart. She spent years training student choirs and co-running a puppeteering business, before working for a humanitarian organisation in New Zealand (7 years) and Papua New Guinea (3 years).
Currently a nomad living between various countries and towns, Emma’s deep joy is in writing, music, cooking up an Italian storm, and taking time to listen to people’s stories.