The world feels a little bit crazy right now! With a global pandemic, various lockdowns and quarantines across the globe to stop the virus spread, and polarising opinions about vaccinations, there is plenty going on to challenge our collective mental health!
Perhaps one of the most divisive topics at this challenging time is vaccinations. I have observed in my own community and across the country some people who feel compelled to share their strong opinions on this topic- in favour or against. Whether it be through participation in a protest rally, a social media post, or in conversation.
Only earlier this week as Sydney came out of lockdown with ‘Freedom Day’ a local café reported a hostile customer berating staff when they asked to see proof of vaccination- a requirement of the NSW Government.
A few weeks back, I read a story of a woman who had de-friended some people in her friendship circle because of how they had responded with aggression and hostility to her position on vaccines.
As I have heard stories such as these, I have been reminded of the importance of extending compassion and kindness to each other. We don’t need to all agree with each other and think the same way. In fact, that sounds like a terribly boring world to live in. We should be able to have our own opinion while simultaneously respecting the fact that other people will also have theirs.
As a parent I like to think that I am trying to teach my children some of the values that are important to me, and kindness is certainly one of them. It is my intention that my children can see me modelling the exact values I speak with them about. For this reason, I feel acutely aware of examples of behaviour in the community that reflect the exact opposite to the values I hold dear.
Ways we can show kindness right now
Encouragingly, and in stark contrast, I have also recently seen and heard so many examples of kindness.
The story of the café I referred to earlier actually had an uplifting conclusion. In response to the hostile customer’s social media video post about the incident, instead of the vitriol that it was intended to elicit, there was an outpouring of support from across the country for the café owner and staff that praised their customer service. Perhaps the most heart-warming response came from a selection of interstate customers who showed their support by paying for a number of coffees for unexpecting customers throughout the day.
A little closer to home, I have had friends send my family care packages during lockdown and we have tried to pay that forward by involving the kids in making care packages for some of their friends. It was lovely to see the smile on the face of my daughter’s ‘BFF’ when we dropped off a very simple care package to her. I could also see it brought real joy to my daughter too.
I pray that as we continue as a community to navigate our way through more challenging times ahead that we each remember to pause long enough to include a little kindness in our actions, words, and thoughts towards each other.
Merewyn Foran is married, a mother to two teenage step-daughters and two younger children. She is a senior executive in a Melbourne not for profit organisation.
Merewyn Foran previous articles may be viewed www.pressserviceinternational.org/merewyn-foran.html