Nelson Mandela held the unshakable belief that South Africa would see an end to Apartheid despite being imprisoned for 27 years. Abraham Lincoln held the unshakable belief that “All Men Are Created Equal” despite the threat of civil war and distension from within his own party. The Rev Martin Luther King Had a Dream, a dream to which he gave his life to. And Gandhi believed that peaceful protest would overcome brutal injustice. They all had one thing in common, they held lofty aspirations for positive change during a time of civil conflict fueled by fear and where kindness rarely appeared on any agenda. These ideas of ambitious positive change were initially seen by many as just lofty aspirations, something to talk about in trusted circles but rarely in public. Despite persecution, threats to life and liberty to any who lobbied for change, the realization of these aspirations eventually came to be and passed into the laws of the land.
Who were these audacious individuals who challenged the status quo before they graced the pages of history? Who was Martin Luther King before he became Martin Luther King and indeed who was Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi before their names echoed in the great corridors of our governments? They were just men with an unshakable belief that being a bystander could never be an option when witnessing social injustice. They chose to relinquish the safety of silence in the face of great adversity and against the advice of family, friends and colleagues. They did this knowing full well they placed more than their popularity at risk, sadly, often resulting with dire consequences. They were good men who simply chose to do something rather than nothing. Their kindness could never be mistaken for weakness for it was tempered with the courage to be kind. Today I ask the good men and women of all nations to also do something but without having to place anything at risk other than the danger we might succeed.
Take a leaf from their book and embrace a lofty aspiration that a kinder world can be realised in our lifetime. A world that sees an end to children committing suicide, a world where the excluded will be invited in with a warm smile hello rather than passing them by or a world where saying something nice is easier than saying nothing at all. A world where there is always the offer of a helping hand when your hands are full, or a voice in the midst of an angry crowd that asks, “Is This The Best We Can Be?”
It is through these simple aspirations that I have embraced my unshakable belief that we will see a day where our world leaders and nations’ governments will lead the way and once again be revered and trusted by its citizens. It will no longer be a place where member’s preferred choice to win an argument is to target the opponent’s character, or rise to the top by putting others down, or preferring to do what is popular rather than what is just and right. One day, I believe there will be a leader who will choose to play the ball rather than the person.
When this day comes, the actions and behaviour of our elected members of government will be honourable by deed and not just in name only. In so doing, they will influence our boardrooms, our staffrooms but most importantly they will influence the children in our classrooms who will instinctively seek the kinder option on the playground or on the sports field. These leaders will be known as Ambassadors of Goodwill. So today I ask us to take the first step of many and declare support for the global campaign for a kinder world. Ask your local council and members of state and federal government to ensure when provided the opportunity, they seize it and sign a “Declaration of Support” for a kinder world.
These Declarations from our nation’s leaders may see us aspire to reach the lofty ideals of a kinder world, however in so doing, may inspire a young man or women to become an agent for positive change and it may be their names such as a schoolgirl, Malala Yousafza, we will be entering into the pages of history to inspire others from our classrooms, to our staff rooms and from our boardrooms to those residing in our corridors of government, that a kinder world can be realised in our lifetime.
Mr Michael Lloyd-White
General Secretary – The World Kindness Movement (2012-2017)