If you Google kindness, you’ll get about a million pages’ worth of quotes about being kind. Many, I noticed, appear in the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, including this gem: “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”
With so much writing about kindness going on, why are so few people practicing it? We are constantly belaboring meanness on social media, on cable news shows, on the roadways, and even in our professional lives. We pose it as an us vs. them problem; it’s “other people” who are being unkind. However, it all circles back eventually, doesn’t it? If only other people are unkind, at some point, we ourselves are the ones perpetrating the unkindness.
Editing this magazine helps me remember that there is much goodness in the world—it refills the well, in self-care speak. In this issue, it was working with Jane Carter and Ruhul Abid on their article about the Rohingya encampment in Bangladesh. The story is a litany of sadness—squalor, malnourishment, communicable disease, sexual assault—and in the middle of it are these Ivy League physicians not just providing acute care but setting up a sustainable health network. Incredibly, they thanked me for helping them share this story with world. They are humble, gracious, modest, and above all, kind.
The vast majority of faculty, students, and alumni I meet are just like that. But we all have those moments of frustration and pique, where our less-than-best selves come through. You don’t want that landing on a scared patient, a student, or even a loved one. We are all contributing to an unkind world, in big and small ways.
Google offers some sage, though unattributed, advice on how to fix that: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”