Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

— from Larkin’s “The Mower

Kindness is the Concern, the Question, the Essential Ingredient. For us all.

Our collective crises (Climate change issues, our nuclear dynamic, racial issues, etc.) have deadlines attached to them. And on many counts kindness must be included in any solutions being considered. Right away. Yesterday.

Kindness is crucial to ruling out cruelty, encouraging compassion, making collective advances.

Within a family, if one spouse is less than kind it impacts negatively on the children. And if vengeance (coming off of an argument) dominates the household, well, the effect should be clear; one can’t advance the health of the family in such an atmosphere.

Talking down to a husband, ridiculing a wife, that sort of thing doesn’t contribute to family health, especially if it’s de rigueur in a given home. There are other manifestations of unkind actions, unkind thoughts which I won’t go into. But their first cousins should be obvious. We all — if we’ve lived long enough — should be able to remember our own participation, feeding the monster who lives at the opposite end of the spectrum from both Mr. Kindness and Ms. Kindness.

IN ACTIVISM — acting out as a concerned citizen seeking movement in solidarity (to make this a better world, to encourage a sense of family among all the creatures on this earth) — kindness must now rear its beautiful head. Treating one and all as kin.

One who is kind does not descend to deplorable language, nor call others deplorable. Being kind precludes securing significant reins of power for self-serving purposes, is the Ground of Being for being an asset for the Collective Good.

What good is the passing of progressive legislation, bringing about even needed radical institutional changes if kindness does not rule the day? It’s too easy to have something on the books, for example, and have the person responsible for implementing advances look the other way. Not enforce, not play fair, not care.

Winner take all in the electoral realm or sports or entertainment or in any realm is usually devoid of kindness. Competition can be kind, though, though it’s not fashionable these days. That’s given way to way too much mean-spirited humiliation. On televised interactions, on the road when rage takes over following accidental close encounters.

Obsession with survival, whether it’s in the area of personal health or the realm of international politics, often undermines the potential for kindness to prevail. Obviously, a medical professional on a treadmill or a cop obsessed with imposed quotas can’t allow kindness to be the primary priority.

But it must. We must find a way to make kindness a part of our day. The major part. For everyone. Talk about hardly anything else for now. Be the kindness you seek from those most different than you are. Our bar must be that high. Set clearly with our family and strangers.

Before it is too late.

Rachel Olivia O'Connor is a freelance journalist. She can be reached at Read other articles by Rachel.