Recommended ReadsDecember 7th, 2021

Revolutionary kindness

A photo of Samantha Roche
Samantha Roche, Principal Researcher

Earlier this year, I joined a conversation with one of Australia’s social research luminaries, Hugh Mackay. In an intimate Canberra bookstore, he shared his latest publication, The Kindness Revolution: a book about the truth of human experiences and our deep fondness for cooperation over competition.

His ability to be bold about our sociocultural tendencies was profound. Mackay is a social psychologist, but he also considers himself a humanist. He firmly believes that at our core, we are a social species: kindness is our natural state. The modern rise of individualism (and the polarities it reinforces) has polluted our evolutionary superpower – the innate desire to be collaborative, communal and cooperative.

Mackay says, “the bandwagon is a powerful symbol for how right we are: look at all those other people who agree with us. Certainty is an intellectual and emotional phenomenon.”

I know that polarisation will continue to exist among us in many shapes and forms, but it need not dictate our underlying social and communal tendency to be kind. I admire how Mackay validates the dangers of groupthink, while confronting the fact that kindness is necessary for the continuing development of egalitarian human values (like tolerance, patience, compassion and respect). It is the way we respond to people who are unlike us that will foster kinder communities.


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