Be Kind. Two words that we have often heard spoken in this country. They are an
important part of New Zealand’s covid brand. Some might say they are a soft touch,
a simplistic approach to leadership. Perhaps those that sniff at the word’s “Be Kind,”
have not been the recipients of kindness, or at least not for a while.
This time around, I have found it harder to be kind. I have found it harder to be in
lockdown full stop! There are many reasons for this. There is no adventure to it, we
all know the drill. There seems to be less creativity and humour doing the rounds of
email. Maybe we used it all up last time? This time we have taken our instructions
from Government in small incremental steps, 3 or 4 days at a time, making it more
difficult to plan and set goals and projects. Some have troubling memories of last
time in lockdown. All these are valid reasons to find the going tough.
However being kind is a behaviour not to be sneezed at. Being kind in the real world
is the difference between pausing and considering how we say something or
reacting in a moment of frustration. It is the difference between listening without
judgement or cutting in to have our say. It is the decision to acknowledge someone’s
achievement and happiness rather than to remain silent, nursing our own envy.
Being kind in the moment can create positive change in the future. An appreciative
comment, an offer to help, an unexpected email, a warm smile, is often commented
on to others and quietly reflected upon as we move through our day. We feel a little
more special because of it. As we feel better, so we are more inclined give out to
others in a better way. Goodness breeds goodness just as negativity collects
In mediation we prep the parties in the act of reciprocity. Rather than demanding
everything on their wish list, we ask them to decide if there is anything that they
could live without? Is there anything that they know the other person would value,
but is of less value to themselves? This is rarely looked upon as an act of kindness
by the person suddenly reshuffling their cards, but more as a wise strategic move.
The hope is that reciprocity is given back in an equal amount. However the
behaviour is described, the outcome of such an action for the receiving party is
invariably surprise, appreciation and some gesture of goodwill returned. Sometimes
it isn’t. Just like in life, kindness is not always returned.
To be kind takes effort and creativity. There is nothing passive about demonstrating
kindness. It requires us to reach outside of where our thoughts usually sit, especially
if we are considering kindness to someone who may not return it. It requires
courage, because sometimes kindness is not reciprocated. Worse, it could be
rejected, not noticed, or thought of as a bit over the top.
In times of stress, the weakest part of any system, person or organisation will break
down first. It may be that under the considerable stress that these Delta covid-19
restrictions are placing on us, that our ability to act and show kindness has deserted
us to some degree.
If you are like me and feel a little less inclined to be kind this time around, I am
certain that we are in good company. I describe this level 3 and 4 experience as
walking uphill. To get to the top we need to decide and commit to keeping the
momentum going forward, for as long as it takes. Surely this is when we need these
reminders and encouragements from our leaders – be they in Government, or in our
community, workplace or family/whanau.
Recent events have reminded us of how important this mantra is. It only takes us to
lose something to recognise its worth. Thank goodness this recent Countdown act of
malice was followed by the outpouring of kindness, reminding us of the goodness out
there that bonds communities together.
As we trudge up the Delta hill towards the downhill run of Level one, let us keep
trying to carry a little piece of kindness with us and be the one to show it to our loved
ones, to those we work with, to those we queue with or pass on our daily walks, and
on, even to those in the mediation room.