OPINION: After a difficult year, it's more important than ever to "be kind"
“Be kind” is a phrase that has become ubiquitous over the last 18 months.
It started after TV presenter Caroline Flack tragically took her own life in February 2020; leading many to re-examine the online abuse and negative press coverage she had received over much of her career, and in particular, in the wake of domestic abuse allegations concerning her alleged assault of her boyfriend.
News of the Love Island presenter’s untimely death led thousands of people to share a quote of Caroline’s from a few months before her death, in which she said: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
People were soon wearing “be kind” T-shirts and the sentiment was shared and repeated far and wide.
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The meaning behind the message has begun to fade somewhat, but I was reminded of it this week when I spoke to Terry Murphy, Head of Social Enterprise at Just Works and Printed By us, social enterprises which fall under the umbrella of Sheffield homelessness charity, the Archer Project.
Printed By us are a screen printing business that provide employment opportunities for Archer Project service users.
Terry explained the important role that empathy and kindness has when trying to support people, particularly those who have experienced homelessness and have spent months, if not years, being ignored.
Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – or to use an idiom, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is such a simple, and natural, facet of being a human being.
But after more than a decade of social media, which some use to anonymously spew hate and negatively – and being able to hide behind a phone or computer screen, I think the value of kindness and empathy sometimes gets lost.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that many have endured the most difficult 15 months in living memory, as restrictions kept friends and family apart, and in some cases took loved ones away altogether.
After all that we have endured, I think we’re all in need of a little bit of kindness.
And what’s more - it feels good to be nice to others.
It’s easy to get lost in your own problems and frustrations, but I’m going to try my best to “be kind” where I can.