Kindness in a ‘Post-Truth’ world

My name is Helen, and it’s been three weeks since I’ve written my last blog post.

Sigh.

I know that’s not the end of the world. But I do have a clearer purpose behind why I’m blogging, and where I want to take it. And letting my writing slide doesn’t help me get there. So it’s something I need to get on top of.

And while school holidays play a part, I don’t regret the distractions they created (well, mostly). Most of the time, we all gain so much from holidays (yes, even the squabbling. I’m sure of it!). School holidays weren’t the main problem.

Instead, it’s been a bigger issue. I’ve let myself get caught up in the hype that I think many of you could relate to. Specifically, I feel bombarded by bad news – crazy and cruel decisions politically, contradictory information about what’s going on across the world, stories of terror and horrific heartache due to the decisions of individuals or groups. Yes, I’ve let myself get caught up in all the information that is spewing out, not only from the United States but also across the world, including here in Australia.

 

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Source: Mommy Needs Vodka

It’s had the effect of flavouring everything I write as either meaningless or repetitive. I’ve been feeling like I’m adding to the noise, and I haven’t quite known how to provide something worthwhile (for me, or for any of you reading it). I don’t expect my blog to dramatically change the world, but I’d like it to have some sort of positive effect – to progress towards something more positive. And I’ve been doubting myself in the light of all the rush.

However – it’s time to stop and it’s time to refocus. Because I think now is a time where we all do need to work towards positive change, in whatever way we can. And so I’m looking to shake off the doubt, and write about why truth and kindness matter.

 

A change of tack

I can’t deny the world seems weird at the moment. So instead, I thought I’d try to write out what I think is going on, how to get back on track, and in the process, how to turn this into a more positive experience. Why not?

I’m reminding myself that, despite a tendency around me to throw our hands up and say we are in a ‘post truth’, or a ‘post fact’ or an ‘alternative facts’ world, actually that might not be correct.

In fact, the opposite might be the case. I believe the truth is more important than ever.

And by ‘truth’, I don’t mean ‘selectively choosing data, or alternative facts, to suit your case’.

I mean truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

I admit – I can’t ‘prove’ the importance of truth. Because it’s complicated. And that’s part of the challenge for us. I’ll explain why I believe it to be true though – and why I believe kindness is a core component of truth.

 

We live in a changing world 

Yes, we do. No arguments there.

We just need to look at any of the key scientific studies, economic studies, the global evidence before us. The facts are very clear.

Or, rather than an arms length approach, we could take a more personal approach and ask others – those in your family, those in your social circle, or those who you might not interact with day to day. And you’ll hear it mentioned, if you ask. You’ll hear about uncertainty in terms of employment; about every increasing speed of life; about concerns with how other countries; or those fleeing their worlds, will live; about how our places around us are changing. About the condition of our environment.

Change can be scary, I know. I like stability too.

It’s important to remember though that change isn’t unusual. The world has always been in a state of change. The pace might speed up or slow down in parts of the world, or in certain sectors of society. But change is a part of life.

What is different, for many of us in western countries, is that for many decades these changes happened slowly, or were largely positive towards us. There were negative impacts – environmentally, for instance – but we didn’t necessarily notice them. It’s a shock then when the impact of change starts to shift, and that’s what’s been happened, really since the 1970s or so. Solutions attempted have had some effect, but not always the intended outcomes. And the changes keep coming and life can become more uncertain.

 

We are influenced by an ever increasing amount of information  

One of the biggest impacts over the past fifty years or so has been the increase in information that is available to an ever increasing audience.

This has speed up even more so in the past decade, since information technology has made things so much more accessible. After all, public access to Facebook started in 2006, the iphone revolutionised smart phones in 2007, and Google was launched in 1998, and the pace of change has increased ever since. Not only has information to us increased, but we are able to provide information to others. Sharing happens in all sorts of ways, way beyond broadsheet newspapers, television stations and radio.

 

So what can we do?

These are my key tips to information management

  • We do need to stay informed. It’s worth sourcing what we read from a more diverse range (and, as has been made clear lately, Facebook does not provide that diversity).
  • We need to critically evaluate what we read. Information is not necessarily factually correct, and facts can be selectively chosen.
  • We need to be humble enough to accept that, sometimes, we might not have the whole story, and open minded enough to see how our view could be adjusted with more knowledge. Not everything is simple. Some of the issues are so big, I feel a bit like an ant looking at an elephant. From where I stand, I’d describe what I see accurately, as would someone looking from a different perspective. Maybe we’re both correct?
  • We need to give ourselves a break from it – otherwise we will burn out.

And we need to act. And that’s where kindness comes in (you knew I’d get there eventually – right?).

 

Kindness is an anecdote to chaos and injustice

I read an excellent post on ‘Nice Girls vs Kind Women‘ from Asia Suler who writes a blog called ‘Woolgathering and Wildcrafting’.  It’s shifted my view on kindness.

I’d put ‘kindness’ in a box alongside ‘niceness’ (well, maybe a little higher, because niceness is so bland, but not much higher). Kindness still seemed passive, somehow.

However, as Asia points out,

‘Kind is defined as “wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others.” In short, kind is something we own. Something we enact, instead of something we fulfill. Kind is something we can decide about ourselves.

Kindness is benevolence. It is the grace of our care, a gift that we can decide to bestow. Nice is mild and forgettable. Kind is a power unto itself. Kindness is a bigness.

We can respond to the truth, and injustice in the world, not by becoming overwhelmed, or by getting frustrated,  but by acting in kindness.

Again from Asia’s blog –

‘It is kindness, not niceness, that truly makes difference in the world. How would this world change if we all were raised to be kind women? Nice girls are quiet when injustices happen, especially to their own selves. Kind women take into account what is best for everyone’s health, which means standing up to those that caused hurt and recognizing that calling people out on their shit, their shadow, is important for the healing of the whole word.’ 

We can stand up for truth. And we can keep learning about the whole truth. And we can call out non-truths. And we can focus on the good that is still happening (including the helpers – there have been so many helpers, standing up for what is right, lately).

And we can keep making a positive impact, by maintaining our focus on what we set out to do and not letting the awful events we see make us ineffective (even if we need to tack a little to get there).

And so that’s what I intend to do.

Normal blogging resuming soon.

 

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6 thoughts on “Kindness in a ‘Post-Truth’ world

  1. The more negative the world gets, the more I feel I have to cling onto a positive outlook. You’re so right Helen, that it’s easy to get distracted from the things we can control by the things that we can’t. Thanks for sharing. I agree that the world will only become a better place when people can stop thinking just of themselves and look for ways to be kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed reading this and definitely agree you are not alone in thinking this. The amount of information and news etc in all our “feeds” through the day is extremely overwhelming and I choose to tune out or not read a lot now as firstly it is too much and secondly I agree that most of it isn’t completely factual or leaves out certain facts We never know the true story on anything. I whole heartedly believe in kindness and raising my children to believe in kindness too. I am at this stage not sure how that will turn out for them as often I feel they will be a minority, it feels that way now. it is certainly important that we look at the helpers and try to focus on that.

    Like

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