Saturday, November 7, 2015

Time to Practice...No...Live Out Our Kindness

It doesn't matter where you go, there’s always a bully, that’s not to excuse it, but state the facts. The idea of bullying is not a new concept. We've all had our own experiences with bullying. I’m sure if we sat down and had a chat about our childhoods, we would have stories to share about being picked on in school. School was a difficult experience for me because I was by nature a very gentle and kind individual.  It didn’t help that I was a red-haired, freckled face boy growing up. I’m not sure why people naturally gravitate towards targeting the gingers. But they do! Then add to that my teeth were a mess. I broke my jaw when I was 4 yrs. old,  and my teeth came in all over the place. So I had braces for five years during school. Many a school picture had me barely smiling, because I didn’t want anyone to see my teeth or later on my braces. However, I survived with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

My mother always said that if I saw somebody hurting or have a need I was the first one to offer to give them the shirt off my back if that would help. Maybe I'm too trusting or always trying to see the good in people, but I have found over the years that it is easy for people to take advantage of me because of my kind nature. I dislike seeing people hurting. I think that's why I like being a teacher so much because when I see students coming from difficult situations I want to help. I can't always fix things or make things right but I can at least show some kindness and care for the students. My hope is that with a little bit of care and compassion I can make a student’s life a little bit better. So when I hear about bullying in school it is certainly something that we want to address at the school level. But rather than focus on bullying or anti-bullying, we try to focus on the virtue of kindness. We do so because when we only point out the negative or what behavior we don't want to see it doesn’t call our students to the practice of the virtue that we want to see from them. Rather than saying to a child, “Stop bullying,” we ask the students to be kind to one another. What does a child learn when we only point out mistakes or failures or what isn't working rather asking what it is we want from them.

The flipside of this also is that if we want to see more kindness we need to model it for them as well. It's so important that we speak to our children and students in a way that builds them up and encourages them to do the right things rather than pointing out all the things that they don't do right. This doesn't necessarily come easy or naturally for us as human beings because we’re inundated with such negative messages around us, so we find it easy to criticize and put others down. So if we want our children or students to practice kindness, we as adults need to do our part as well. So Nov 13th is World Kindness Day. Let’s be kind to one another.

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