Mayor Jorge Elorza, borrowing an initiative from Anaheim, mentioned in his recent Inaugural speech that he wants to dub Providence as a "City of Kindness". This involves, in part, encouraging residents to live better lives of love, decency, tolerance, cooperation, and, well, as the name suggests, "kindness."
He has assembled a group of religious and community leaders to brainstorm ways to implement this initiative to get residents and visitors to Providence to be more sympathetic to their neighbors in day-to-day dealings.
Obviously, this is what most people have always wanted - a safe, trustworthy, positive community in which to live. I say that most people "have always wanted" as a way to illustrate that, despite this mass desire for a utopian society, in the entire history of mankind, it has NEVER happened. The moles of human nature - greed, anger, envy, etc. have corrupted every attempt at a "kind" civilization. The world can be a cruel place no matter where you live. I heard one of a caveman mayor in pre-historic times who proposed a "cave community of kindness". He was immediately clubbed in the face by some other caveman guy for no apparent reason. Cruel world.
Don't get me wrong - I get what Mayor Elorza is going for, and he is astute in recognizing that modern society is getting more self-centered, rage-filled, and downright inhospitable. I truly believe the mayor wants to change people's hearts, and his desires are noble. But to think we can change the way people "are" through a rose-colored, pollyannaish political initiative misses the mark of reality and practicality.
And to think that actual taxpayer money is going to be spent on this impossible dream. Every penny would be a waste. When politicians and community leaders try to make something "hip", it immediately becomes "unhip" and the butt of jokes. Sorry, but as much as anyone would like to be the savior who transforms human nature in Providence by throwing dollars into programs and advertising and events, it just isn't going to happen. The guy who doesn't hold the door for you going into Dunkin Donuts today ain't gonna' hold it for you tomorrow. Because, you see, he is a pr*ck.
Teach more kindness in schools? We've been preaching kindness to our children since the dawn of time. They're still going to be cruel to and bully each other, even if we create "awareness." Try to change the behaviors of teenagers, middle-aged people, and beyond with clever "kindness" slogans and kindness-themed events? Forget it. People are so locked into their current behavior patterns that they are not going to refrain from throwing the middle finger in rage when they are cut off on the highway because a politician or the clergy told them not to. Besides, the guy who cut him or her off on the highway was, let's face it, an a-hole.
Reading this, you may think I am the most miserable, pessimistic, hopeless person on the planet. That is partly true, and partly not. And you may say, "Kevin, are we supposed to just do "NOTHING?" Well, to me, this "City of Kindness" initiative is tantamount to nothing.
But I believe in presenting solutions when I point out problems, and here's my solution for the only shot at getting people to be more kind - to save humanity from its downward spiral:
Change yourself. Be kind. Be helpful. Loving. Supportive. Understanding.
But you already know that. And you don't need politicians, priests, community leaders, celebrities, or, hell, even this blog to tell you that. Only YOU have the power to change yourself and do what you have always known to be right. Catch yourself in those bad moments and react with calmness and reason and empathy.
That being said, as my act of kindness, I thank you for reading this, and wish you all the best.
And please "like" this blog.
I could use an act of kindness.