Creating a Culture of Kindness

By Kathryn Magura

Two weeks ago, I went to my car after a long day at work and discovered that the person who parked next to me was so far over the line that I couldn’t even open my door to get in. As I stood there and pondered what to do, my “pet peeve” internal alarm for other drivers and their lack of regard for anyone else was sounding. How friggin’ hard is it to pull out and re-park? Thankfully I am able-bodied enough to find alternative routes into my driver’s seat, but what if I wasn’t? Would the other driver even care?

Over the summer, I dealt with a roommate issue that was so terrible, one of the students earned a trip to meet with our Director of Student Conduct as soon as she came to campus. In my conversations with her, she seemed genuinely confused as to what she had done that was so terrible. As I tried in vain to explain that there are consequences for words and actions, it became clear that this was the first time she had ever been held responsible for her actions. That’s certainly a tough lesson to learn for the first time at 18.

This past Tuesday, I checked Twitter in the afternoon and saw that there was a shooting in a local mall. This mall is very close to my brother’s house, so I immediately checked in on my family. Thankfully, they were all away from the mall, but this was way too close to home. People were shot in cold blood while they ate at the food court. Why would someone do this? What pushes someone to the point that killing strangers is the only solution to their problem?

Then on Friday, a man forced his way into an elementary school in Connecticut and viciously murdered 20 children and 6 adults. The brutality and senseless nature of this act are so deplorable, we are left with more unanswered questions as to why someone would do this than we know what to do with. The fact that this happened so close to the holidays adds a layer of sadness that is unbearable. 20 young lives cut far too short, and 6 adults who tried to shield them from terror will never know how they were heroes that day. Why did this happen? How could this happen?

What connects all these acts? While I’m not trying to compare the level of severity between them, I am trying to make a connection to how I see our society as a whole. I believe we have created a society wherein it is too easy to not have to care about other people. If actions have no consequences, why does it matter what we do? If we are able to hide behind a persona we create for ourselves (whether it’s online, shut off from others, or covering up our true selves), then we don’t have to be personally accountable for our own actions, right?

Wrong. I want to see us create a culture where we genuinely give a damn about each other. I want us to think through how our actions may impact others. As much as we are all feeling this great loss for the lost futures that will never be realized in Connecticut, I want us to not let these deaths come in vain.

So what can we do? I challenge us all to perform acts of kindness for each other. Do something small like let someone merge in front of your car when they are trying to turn against traffic, or something bigger like buy the groceries for the person behind you in line at the grocery store. Take some time to help an elderly person get their groceries to their car, or volunteer at your local retirement home. Do something. Do anything to prove that we are better than this.

I know in this time of senseless tragedy it is easy to get lost in hopelessness. So consider this my challenge to us all to get out there and create a culture of kindness and caring for each other. Who’s with me?

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  • Valerie Von D

    Mags. You spoke the truth. And I think we also need to raise our children differently and with consequences AND responsibility. Thanks for this.

    • http://twitter.com/Kmagura Kathryn Magura

      Thanks Val! Just doing what I can to try and change my corner of the world for the better. :)

  • Marlena L

    Thanks for the thoughts on kindness! I agree 100% on creating a culture of kindness. Your campus conduct example touched me most as this is something I feel I am constantly dealing with, especially in the realm of online interactions. I think technology is a beautiful thing but it does create this space for anonymity and hurtfulness to take place without repercussion to the poster. And to address comments online risks spiraling hate speak and trolling. Again, thanks for the post. Lots of good work to do but it can start with us.