A Month of Kindness and a better society

I think we could all use a little more kindness, even if it seems sappy.

The University’s Month of Kindness has already begun and goes through Dec. 10. No doubt about it, “Month of Kindness” sounds pretty sappy.

It involves no hidden cameras, conniving administrators or political conspiracies.

But since its inception five years ago on the East Coast, Month of Kindness has engaged thousands of people as participants in and beneficiaries of planned or random acts of kindness.

For three years now, University students have organized events ranging from winter clothing drives and events to raise money for disease research to kindness protests and campaigns urging people to “stop the hate,” all in the name of making positive contributions to our community and fostering good will, tolerance, pluralism and openness on our campus.

Why do we need it?

Looking through articles in the Daily or any other newspaper today, it’s easy to find things that make us angry, indignant or simply depressed because they so clearly reveal our capacity to distrust and do bad things to one another.

It doesn’t seem like too much to ask that we take 30 days out of a year to highlight some of the other capacities we have as humans ” the ability to care for one another, to think of the impact our words and actions have on the people around us and to use our energy and talent to make a positive difference in the world.

Some of us will join in events planned during the next few weeks, which can be found on the Month of Kindness Web site at www.monthofkindness.com.

But perhaps all of us can take a few moments to consider the underlying mission of the University ” to improve the human condition through the discovery, dissemination and application of knowledge.

In our daily struggles as students, faculty and staff members, it’s easy to get caught up in our individual roles and focus on our differences and disagreements.

For 30 days this year, student-leaders and participants in the Month of Kindness provide an opportunity for us to recall our humanity and our mission as part of the remarkable institution we call the University of Minnesota.

I salute the students who organized this year’s events and I hope many students, faculty and staff members will participate.

More importantly, let’s each try to make efforts in our daily lives to simply act more kindly toward our fellow students, our colleagues, our professors, our friends and even the strangers we encounter on the sidewalk or in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

In a year where we have witnessed much destruction, suffering, sorrow and loss, I think we could all use a little more kindness, even if it seems sappy.

Jerry Rinehart is vice provost for Student Affairs. Please send comments to [email protected]