In 1987 my little boy began his education at the local school. It was small, caring and perfect for his needs. The school itself had opened in 1968, in a society distinguished by social conflict, and influenced by flower power, the peace movement and the summer of love. The school had a wonderful motto with the words Kindness, Effort, Humanity.
This inspiring statement was the work, not of baby boomers, but of our parents’ generation, the people who survived recession and war and came out the other side to build a new, better society. These were goals they treasured. Inclusive, achievable goals that would promote the common good. I liked them.
Move on a few years, past the end of the raucous, glitzy eighties, past the crash of 1989 and into the nasty selfish nineties.
The school was in new hands. Brash younger baby boomers had taken over and wanted nothing to do with these old-fashioned ideas.
Without consultation, they changed the motto. The new one exemplified their greedy, elitist way of looking at things. Dare to excel neatly divided the children into two groups—courageous high-achievers and pathetic gutless losers. No sympathy for weakness there, and no concept of kindness either.
These were the type of people who went on to support Australia’s shameful refugee policy, a dramatic shift in our culture towards selfish, heartless individualism and a total disregard for others.
That battle is still being fought, but the advocates of humanity are losing. Our country and our planet need a lot more kindness, effort and humanity. On the other hand, there’s far too much daring to excel.
There is some hope. The school has since changed its motto once again, this time to Reach out, aim high.
Perhaps we can look forward to a resurgence of kindness and social cohesion after all.
See another advocate of kindness here https://teddycanblog.com/2016/06/04/the-paradoxical-nature-of-kindness/