I wanted to share with you a little from Robert Coles book entitled “Moral Intelligence”. He writes in the section ‘A letter to Parents’ the following:
“How do we do “the best for them”? What is “the best for them”? I posed those anxious questions, pretending to be “cool” about it all by laughing, mocking my very inquiry- yet another worried, literal-minded father, teacher. “I told you,” he addressed me, he reminded me, “to be kind,’ that’s what we have to be, to do: show by how we behave that we’re interested in others and want the best for them.” Now he slumped a bit, and so did I- we both realized, I thought then, I still think, that we weren’t considering a specific act, or a series of acts, a routine, a set of rules, a strategy, but rather, a way of being to which one aspires, then works, day by day, to find for oneself, to share with others.
Henry James’s nephew, the son of William James, once asked the great and thoughtful novelist what he ought to do with his life, how he ought to live it. The nephew (who today might be regarded as going through Erikson’s identity crisis) received this advice: “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” The issue here is the hortatory verb, “be,” as well as the adjective- the instance that one find an existence that enables one to be kind. Hot to do so? By wading in, over and over, with that purpose in mind, with a willingness to sail on, tacking and tacking again, helped by those we aim to help, guided by our moral yearning on behalf of others, on behalf of ourselves with others: a commitment to others, to oneself as linked to others, that won’t avoid squalls and periods of seeming drift, but that will become the heart of the journey itself, with it’s ups and downs, a journey that is, after all, the destination- moral commitment given the life of moral companionship. “
I think that the issues that Robert Coles discusses are so critical to the health and wellbeing of our world. These are issues that we as teachers should be discussing the sharing with parents and children. More importantly we need to find ways to make kindness visible for those around us, particularly children. We all stand in such a powerful place, we should use this power with great care.