Last year there was a lot of no-hate talk—especially around election time. It’s a good conversation to have. Kindness, empathy and caring about others are essential in a community. But one of the things I noticed during the course of listening, engaging and reading about these conversations is the hatred that sometimes sits within many of the people espousing all the love.
Ironic isn’t it?
I realize a lot of it comes from anger and frustration. 2020 was fraught with that. I’m not saying we shouldn’t express our feelings or that there aren't things to be angry about. There are. And we should -- we live in a country where we have the freedom to do that. But where does our freedom of expression cross the line into hate speech itself? Or bullying? If we are screaming so loudly about something, can anyone actually hear what we are saying?
Maybe the screaming is the only way people will feel heard, will be heard. I hope not. I hope we can come to a place where we can speak freely and lovingly to one another; where we can lean in and learn, really listen to others, understand, make change where necessary, or at least agree to disagree without harming anyone.
If we can’t, the trickle-down effect may have unintended consequences for our kids. Children are highly perceptive and their opinions are often formed by what we do and say. If we want our kids to have compassion and understanding we need to embody compassion and understanding. Are we really doing that? Research from Harvard’s Making Caring Common project indicates parents may be sending mixed messages to their children.
Children are like sponges. They soak up what we say and are impacted even more by what we do. My resolution this year is to make sure I’m loving well and being a good role model for not just engaging in good works but also for listening, understanding and being compassionate.
Here’s an article that sheds some more light on raising kind, compassionate kids.