1The library attendant in a school complained that the young children were restless, often hit each other, got into fights, and treated the books badly, scribbling in them and tearing pages. We were surprised till we saw for ourselves that this was true, but also that she was sadly incapable of interesting them in books, and simply set in front of each child a book that she pulled from the locked-up cupboard, saying ‘Read’.

Participating in a reading programme, we decided to appeal to children’s natural curiosity and eagerness to learn in creative and inviting ways, first physically changing the layout and look of the room with brightly painted walls, open shelves and good, age-appropriate books. But what made the real difference was initiating five simple ‘Agreements’ with each class. Not rules, but agreements.

The first was “This is a Kind Room; we are kind to each other and kind to books.” In just ten days we saw an amazing change. Of course creative teaching methods and the invitational atmosphere of exploration and conversation definitely helped, but the idea of the ‘Kind Room’ became a special place and mode of being for them.
We have seen that kindness does seem to be a quality or action that is contagious.

We worked with the educators to show how children play back to us the way we behave with them. They learn and reflect speech and behaviour, the good as well as the unhelpful, sometimes from peers and other sources – but mostly from their elders.
Often we are unkind quite unthinkingly. As the pace of our lives increases our communication though on the increase, becomes less and less personal. Warmth and genuine empathetic connections fade.

That is why Italian psychologist Piero Ferrucci warns against another world-threatening danger he calls ‘Global Cooling’ that grows out of our uncaring and unkind ways, suggesting two kindness ‘tools’, empathy and attention.

People who are going through any kind of suffering have a hard time listening to – never mind making good use of – advice, diagnoses and interventions. But everyone needs empathy. When people feel that someone is paying attention, deeply listening, they may be able to gradually let go of suffering and move toward healing.
It all starts – and grows – through personal acts of kindness. The more unkind the world seems to us, the more we need to make the unilateral decision to be kind. It’s often hard, very hard; these days most times I succeed, but still too often fail miserably. That’s when it’s easiest to just give up.

But then, some luminous act of kindness – almost unnoticeable if I’m not paying attention – will come my way. Often from very unexpected sources – the patient, helpful woman in a government office that otherwise runs on curt, rude inefficiencies; the little boy who yelling, “Wait, wait, there’s one across the road!”, collects every last tomato that rolls out of a bag that I drop.

Ferruci, almost reading the objections we will make says, “Maybe our kindness will be ineffective. The money we send to alleviate hunger might be unwisely used. Helping an old lady across the road does not eliminate poverty in a faraway country. And for every plastic bottle we pick up, another ten will be tossed down tomorrow. Never mind. We have affirmed a principle, a way of being.”

“If at the beginning and end of our lives we depend upon others’ kindness,” writes the Dalai Lama in the preface of The Power of Kindness, “why then in the middle, when we have the opportunity, should we not act kindly toward others?”

Source : http://www.speakingtree.in/