Character VirtuesPeace

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intentions

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intentions – H Jackson Brown (5 min read)

Where to begin?  All character virtues are important, in fact they all seem like they must be the starting point for a more peaceful world.  But a decision must be made on which virtue to commence with – from the over one hundred virtues my research uncovered (outlined in my previous blog).  My family aren’t on board enough yet to have the interest to join me in the decision-making process and so they encouraged me to ‘just let them know’. After much to-ing and fro-ing, I narrowed down the commencement contenders to ‘respect’ and ‘kindness’.

I strongly believe that showing respect for the four P’s:  people, places, possessions and the planet is the very least we should all do.  It has often struck me that if we all lived those levels of respect, what a wonderful world it would be.  However, as I have mentioned previously, respect may be suffering from a bit of an identity crisis and is in need of a positive makeover.  Teenagers who have been told to show ‘respect’ in predominantly negative, hypocritical, or highly emotionally charged situations; may ‘switch off’ when the word is mentioned.  I certainly didn’t want to start the project, and the year, off on a sour note.

Interest in kindness, on the other hand, is growing; and books on kindness have proliferated, including in the parenting genre.  Websites on kindness abound. With Mr Google’s help, I quickly had access to an amazing amount of information about how to increase kindness. 

Progressive organisations and global movements such as:, The Great Kindness Challenge, The World Kindness Movement, The Kindness Revolution, the Kindness Factory and; are encouraging and empowering individuals, families, groups, schools and corporations, to practice kindness in their everyday lives.  They provide tools, ideas, projects and events that help make the world a kinder place.  The Random Acts of Kindness foundation even supplies training materials and a yearlong ‘Kindness in the Classroom’ curriculum free of charge. Other sites offer a free 21-day, one month, or, year long kindness challenge; which each inspire an act of kindness a day.

The websites and their messages are uplifting and reassuring….. the choice is clear ….. Kindness it is, for the first month of this year long project!

As a final word on kindness, I leave you with a quote from Professor George Saunders’s commencement address to Syracuse University for the graduate class of 2013. 

“So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:  What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder. Because kindness, it turns out, is hard — it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include . . . well, everything. ”

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