It’s interesting times when simple acts of human decency or generosity are heralded as revolutionary and heroic. Remember when that bus driver gave someone his shoes? This indicates to me what many have come to expect in their day to day lives and that is to be treated with an absence of compassion by a number of different people/places/systems.
Last month at a government consultation, I recommended empathy/kindness training for government employees. It seemed like a strange thing to suggest but I really do believe it is needed. Time and time again, Indigenous youth share stories with me about how they are treated abruptly, rudely and in unkind ways by services that are supposed to be provided. This mean spirited treatment from those responsible for dispensing necessary services seems to happen across systems including courts/justice, media, education, child welfare, employment – creating a society wide attitude that makes it ok to be mean to Indigenous people, and worse, kids! Sometimes it makes me feel like the whole world is sick.
How do we fix a person that is sick? We figure out what’s wrong, and give them the medicine they need. But how do we address an entire society that is sick? That is more difficult to answer. But it helps to think of these systems and societies being made entirely out of people! These people can address service delivery challenges, improve the way people feel as they walk away from a situation where they needed to ask for some kind of support.
I think we should all strive to be good relatives to others and to ourselves. We should acknpwledge that it’s hard to ask for help, so when someone displays the courage to ask for it, especially when we are in a position of helping within an unkind system, I believe we have a humam responsibility to be generous and kind. The only way I have ever known how to make a difference is to start by maling small changes to my own actions. If we lead by example and are kind to the people around us we can actually heal them.
In a world that is this sick, when we can’t find the medicine, we have to be the medicine.