By Marcia Meyer
There’s no dancing around the issue. Incivility is a national epidemic.
Long before this year’s raucous election cycle and the numerous flashpoints of civil unrest clipped the wings of the better angels of our nature, national opinion polls showed overwhelming majorities believe incivility is a serious issue that’s getting worse.
People young and old don’t simply perceive incivility. They witness or experience it on a daily basis, whether it’s bare-knuckles partisan politics, cruel online behavior, rude driving or so many other thoughtless ways we toss aside grace and compassion.
America, we have a problem. But we also have a solution.
It sounds simple. It’s not. We may not even know it when we see it, but kindness is the remedy for the epidemic of incivility. We know this to be easier said than done. Look at where we are today. The clear understanding of kindness and the commitment to practice it takes strength, courage and wisdom.
Kindness should not be confused with politeness. It is more than opening doors and saying please and thank you. Politeness reveals little about internal goodness. Kindness on both the giving and receiving end touches our very core.
Kindness is acting intentionally to extend good to other people. It is a state of mind and a way of life to be lived every day at home with family, with friends, co-workers or in the community with strangers.
The Be Kind People Project believes the best way to change the trajectory of incivility is to give children the knowledge and key skills to express and practice kindness. Their empowerment begins with an understanding of how to put the Be Kind Pledge into action: Be encouraging, supportive, positive, helpful, honest, considerate, thankful, responsible, respectful and be a friend.
We’ve seen what our program, which literally uses head spins and high-energy twists and body flips to inspire and teach kindness, does for individuals and school cultures throughout the United States. Our Be Kind Crew encourages positive self-expression and consideration for others through the use of hip-hop dance and poetic words. We dance into the hearts and minds of children to deliver character education, stimulate positive change and provide a lifelong values framework for young people.
Helping children learn to be caring, responsible and respectful citizens who know how to build positive and healthy relationships is an effective response to the scourge of incivility that threatens humanity and tears at the national fabric.
Teach children kindness and we seed the future for something much better than our present.
And that’s a good reason to dance.
Marcia Meyer is founder and CEO of the Be Kind People Project.