Yesterday was Random Acts of Kindness Day, which is a brilliant idea and a great day to see those acts celebrated but thinking about random acts of kindness in terms of a day is somewhat concerning when we should just be kind every day.
Kindness should be our default setting surely, and something that as a society and as human beings we are proud of and yet sadly it seems that in some spaces quite the opposite is the case. And frankly we wonder how this has happened and why we, as a society have allowed it to.
Of course a whole lot of things have happened that have led to division. Politics, wealth, poverty, lack of inclusion, the mainstream press, and more have all a part to play in the way we behave in society and whilst we see division and in some places bullying in the way others behave, it seems that it has become the norm to be unable to discuss issues, but rather shout obscenities and unpleasantries across parliament square, or over social media. Spaces that could be safe don’t feel like they are and there is concern that online bullying is just becoming what is seen as normal. And we think it’s time to call stop.
Communication is vital for life. Whether it’s chatting to a group of friends, a group with a shared interest, family, colleagues or with the butcher or baker, the way we speak to people speaks of us. And it takes no time at all to be polite and smile, rather than bark orders or criticise, and you will get far more from the interaction, as will whoever it is you are talking to. Of course we all know this. But there has become a part of society that thinks this is unnecessary and that it doesn’t need to listen or to be kind and this is particularly prevalent in online spaces, but also happens across our towns, villages and cities, where acceptance of anything that might feel different is just attacked rather than learnt about and embraced.
Of course the core ethos of Incredible Edible is kindness. Whatever Incredible Edible groups do as their work, food and kindness are key, with inclusion and listening to others thoughts, ideas and opinions a part of how we work collaboratively and cooperatively in our connected communities. Just learning to listen, being interested in others and tolerant of their ideas, is key to the success of any group that wants to be seen as inclusive and forward thinking. We all acknowledge that there is a lot to do to bring society together and these core ideals are vital to ensure we do that.
But there is something else. The MP, Jo Cox, said we have “far more in common that that which divides us” and of course that is rue and nowhere is it truer than in a garden or when eating as a community. Coming together over food, breaking bread and connecting through the basic human needs of food and drink, creates spaces where conversations flow, people feel welcome and comfortable and we can celebrate humans at their best. We all need community. We all need connection. And in a world where loneliness is becoming one of the biggest drivers of poor mental health, we need these safe spaces more than ever. So rather than a random acts of kindness day, shouldn’t we celebrate the power of the small actions we see across our network every day and communicate them well and with courage as well as kindness. By doing that we are creating a kinder, more inclusive world and one where division is berated and connection celebrated. Those small actions can swell to a huge wave of change, fuelled by kindness. Wouldn’t that be a better world?