On Being Kind: Summary
Our blaming and shaming culture is a threat to society
True kindness has been lacking in this pandemic.
Fear and lack of trust are driving this misbehavior.
We can restore our social bonds by respecting each other.
It is perhaps the first of the three injunctions to “be kind, be calm, and be safe” during this pandemic that has been most misused and abused.
Being kind should have been the one injunction that most people followed. It’s a “no effort” decision. It doesn’t require a smile or even a good deed; simply not abusing others is all that is required.
And yet, harsh stares, blunt rudeness, hectoring demands, public accusations, and open conflict have been common occurrences this year.
Why do people act this way when it is so clear that everyone is suffering?
The complete upending of our lives is a likely culprit, as is the severing of close personal contact with those we like and love. Disrupt peoples’ lives and they understandably (but regretfully) strike out.
There is something deeper at work, though, to explain why so many have decided to turn on others this year.
Note that the indictment becomes all of us.
Seen this way, we can easily recognize the misanthropist (or anti-human) attitudes that have been building for decades in the “climate crisis” movement and, well before that, in mainstream Christianity and socialist political movements.
Humanity is fallen, we have all sinned, we must pay for our foul deeds. Few can be trusted but some enlightened souls know the way forward. “We” know better and you need to obey. After all, it’s all your fault.
And let’s face it, at one level we are all to blame. That is literally true because the virus’ raison d’etre is to jump from one human to another, using our cells as replication machines. There are no other hosts than us.
By the same token, though, none of us is really to blame.
Since nature has the upper hand with this unstoppable contagion, we should therefore find some humility and stop pointing a crooked finger at those we choose to accuse.
We have built an open and generally tolerant society in the West, and that incredible achievement is entirely at risk with the current set of popular attitudes and public policies.
Our mental health, our good natures, our empathy and compassion, our material well-being, our ideas and our innovation, and our children’s futures: all are bound up in a tightly knit community that is currently coming undone.
And this is even more important in the realm of public policy, where we have shifted this year from a traditional governance model of accountability, minority rights, and limits to compulsion to straight out executive fiat, legislative compliance, mandatory orders, moral suasion, and censorship.
We are not strengthening our social bonds by ceding control to the top and forcing everyone to behave the same way.
Our diversity is our fundamental strength and that is only preserved through widely dispersed power, inclusive decision-making, multiple points of view, acceptance of dissent and criticism, and hands-off regulation of thought and behavior.
In other words, a civil society that exists for more than simply preventing viral contagion.
That single-minded objective of defeating Nature’s pandemic is perhaps what has gone most wrong in this year of considerable unkindness.
We have sacrificed everything else of value to a quixotic quest that has so far paid out nothing in return.
It is time to make a change for the better by adhering to a deeper definition of “being kind”: treating others as you would have them treat you, with respect, intelligence, trust, and compassion.
It starts with a personal commitment to these principles, but can only succeed by ending today’s coercive attitudes and policies.
We are being anything but kind on our present misguided course.
The full article can be found here.