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The Courage of Kindness

November 13, 2020
By: 
Cheryl Heykoop
Photo by Andrew Thornebrooke on Unsplash

Photo by Andrew Thornebrooke on Unsplash

What might be possible if kindness leads?

Last week at RRU’s virtual convocation, Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s Public Health Officer, was awarded an Honourary Doctor of Laws. In her address, she spoke about the importance of kindness. She specifically shared that “in the end, all we have is kindness.”

Since, I’ve been reflecting upon what kindness means to leadership today as we navigate the complex, interconnected challenges of reconciliation, systemic racism, social inequities, political divides, climate change and pandemic responses.

According to the English Oxford Living Dictionaries, kindness refers to: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate; a kind act. Or, according to Emmy Manson, a Snuneymuxw Woman, kindness refers to “holding each other up.”

In theory, the concept of kindness seems quite simple; however, to live from a place of kindness is likely one of the boldest and courageous acts one can take. As I look back through history, I see countless examples where kindness was absent or lacking. And so, I’m left pondering, if we look to the complex challenges that lay before us, how the act of living and leading from a place of kindness can chart a new course; how it can transform?

In reviewing countless studies citing the benefits of kindness and reviewing resources guidance on how to be kind, I haven’t necessarily found any definitive answers about how to achieve kindness at an individual and collective level. Instead, I’m left with many more questions; however, I’m struck by the types of questions and possibilities that kindness evokes.

What does kindness mean when grappling with decolonization and reconciliation? What does kindness mean when we meet face to face with others who may share differing views than ourselves? What does kindness mean when others are struggling, and we too are feeling lonely and are in deep need of a hug?

Moreover, as leaders on this journey together, how can we lead from a place of kindness? How can we be kind? What might kindness offer to ourselves, to each other, and the planet as we navigate these uncertain, unknown times?

Because, if in the end, all we have is kindness, or rather, if kindness is all we have in the end, what might be possible if kindness leads?