The Problem with ‘Be Kind’

I can’t pinpoint when ‘Be kind’ became a campaign, but it’s safe to say it was borne of the pandemic and a few attention-grabbing headlines involving some not-very-nice celebrities (that means you, Ellen). Before long, this worthwhile, seemingly self-evident sentiment evolved into a ‘movement’ of sorts. And therein lies the problem.

Doing something kind doesn’t make you a kind person. Many who sing the praises of kindness are latching onto the virtue as a marketing tool. You know the type – the ‘Oh look at me doing good for others’ because God forbid someone do a selfless deed without posting it on Instagram. Doing a kind act requires that your heart, not your phone, is in the right place.

Worse, kindness is all too often used as a defence mechanism, one that stifles dissent of any sort. These days, people are so averse to disharmony that simply stating an opinion, even a well-reasoned one, is seen as being ‘disagreeable’ (read: unkind). Yet sometimes the kindest thing we can do is to tell the truth.

Far too many people I know will air their strong opinions only in private because they don’t want to be seen as being difficult. What’s wrong with making waves or rocking the boat? (Choose your aquatic idiom). Good things often come from disturbing the status quo. By not standing up for yourself when you’re more than capable, you leave others to do battle on your behalf. And that’s a bit selfish (dare I say unkind?).

To any person compromised or marginalised by another. Don’t be kind. Use your voice, loud and clear. Each and every time.

To the friend who asks your opinion about a new outfit. Don’t be kind if that means lying (“You look amazing!”). Show kindness by being honest (“Hmmm, that’s not my favourite colour on you…”) because true friends speak truthfully, occasionally by tautologies 😉

I could go on and on.

Please rest assured this is not a Bah, humbug! blog though I am struggling to embrace the true meaning of Christmas in a sea of highly stylised, multi-filtered ‘reality’ posts (From our home to yours). If I were to join the bandwagon, which I don’t expect to any time soon, my photo would show dogs traipsing mud through the house, laundry scattered everywhere, simple cuisine (‘paysan’ food being my specialty) and a distinct lack of Christmas decorations and holiday flair (though we still have three or so days, right?).

For the kind souls who want to know what I’ve been doing this year, other than pontificating: I recently signed a contract for a non-fiction picture book with the wonderful people at Affirm Press. It’s about an issue very close to my heart, and I look forward to sharing more in 2022. I was selected for The Street Theatre Early Phase program, developing a concept for a new play about end-of-life choices. Production for the Fragments digital series has started with most of the films to be shot in January. The paperback version of the play was published on 1 October for Mental Health Month under my new imprint, Big Ideas Press. My children’s poem was published in The Caterpillar magazine. I started sketching again, mainly for fun, procrastination and as a creative exercise. I wrote and produced a series of short videos on wellbeing for children. I reviewed stacks of books for the Children’s Book Council of Australia. I started a community reading initiative to be launched in early 2022 (another COVID-19 casualty). I reconfigured my workspace to make it finally … work. In my ‘spare’ time, I wrote, I read, I dreamed, I studied, I organised, I negotiated, I marketed, I planned, I laughed, I cried, I hoped.

And now, I’m on my way to our farm at the coast where I’ll be learning beekeeping, the elusive art of growing the perfect avocado, the best times of the day to avoid sun damage (midnight?) practising my pool skills (as in billiards) and dabbling in G&T alchemy. My latest concoction includes pomegranate, mint and orange. An early Christmas gift from our home to yours. 🤣🎄🍹

Happy holidays and look out 2022!

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