Be Kind to Humankind Week

By Shauna Brooks, Performance and Evaluation Specialist, National Safe Place Network

This past weekend, I was moved by the words of Billy Porter’s character, Pray Tell, speaking to his friend Blanca’s brother, “Kindness costs you nothing,” in season 1, episode 5 of Pose.  If you haven’t experienced the show, I encourage you to do so.  I will caution that this show should be viewed by adults only as the content is not appropriate for children. It is nothing short of extraordinary, but not the subject of this writing so I’ll return to the purpose at hand.  What is noteworthy about that particular utterance of the phrase is its distinction from understanding. 

I have always thought of myself as genuinely wanting to learn, know, and understand others.  It saddens me that, in this time, the things that divide us from each other seem to be emphasized and strengthened while awareness of our shared human experience is dwindling.  I have, particularly since the last American presidential election, frequently lamented how little we understand each other.  Sometimes I feel my blood pressure rising when I see a certain bumper sticker.  I automatically ascribe all sorts of judgments connected with that image to the drivers who carry it.  I fantasize about pulling a full-on “Towanda” (Kathy Bates v. VW Beetle in Fried Green Tomatoes), and think to myself, “I do not, cannot, and will not ever understand them!”

I also acknowledge my desire to be known and understood for who I truly am.  I know how much it hurts to be judged.  I know how frustrating it is to have my intentions misinterpreted.  I know how unfair it is for people to make assumptions about me without giving me a chance to validate or correct them.  These feelings are human.  And that is the salient point.

Being kind does not require me to understand, or agree, or condone, or consent.  Kindness is a choice.  Kindness costs me nothing.  Lorraine Jara, of Toms River, New Jersey, sought to remind us of that in 1988 when she created “Be Kind to Humankind Week,” which is now celebrated August 25-31 each year.  Each of seven practices is assigned to a day to exercise kindness throughout the week.

  •  Sunday, Aug 25:  Show them we care by sacrificing our wants for others’ needs.
                                 - Give something up to help someone else.
  • Monday, Aug 26:   Drive courteously.
                                  - I’ll be putting “Towanda” away that day.
  • Tuesday, Aug 27:  Spread kindness one heart at a time.
                                  - “Put a little love in your heart.”
  • Wednesday, Aug 28: Offer a helping hand.
                                    - If your neighbors don’t need it, volunteer in your community.
  • Thursday, Aug 29: Treat others well by being thoughtful.
                                  - Break out of your bubble and notice how the people around you are.
  • Friday, Aug 30: Come together by forgiving a foe.
                              - Finding forgiveness in your heart brings peace and freedom.
  • Saturday, Aug 31: Say something nice.
                                 - Young people who work to combat bullying are really good at this!

In fact, young people in your programs can be a rich source of creative ideas for celebrating Be Kind to Humankind Week. 

Learn more, find daily activities, and discover how you can help spread the word about Being Kind to Humankind at #bk2hk

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