Focus on Kindness this Father’s Day

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I’VE BEEN THINKING

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the pillars of the society I want to live in. The society I want to work in. The society I want to grow old in.

Love, as I wrote last week, is the guiding principle of that society. There are several other principles as well, which I’ll get to over the next few weeks. But today, on Father’s Day, I want to focus on the concept of kindness.

Kindness, I believe, is one of the most important qualities that we can have. It’s what can lead us out of our current atmosphere, which is anything but kind.

We rarely recognize kindness as a form of strength, but it is. It takes strength to lead your life from a place of kindness — whether you are leading as a father, an elected official, a teacher, a CEO, or as someone in some other role.

Being kind starts with being kind to yourself. You know that inner voice that so often berates you and everyone around you? That voice that tells you that you’re not working hard enough? That you’re not keeping up? That says, ‘Who do you think you are’? Well, when that voice finishes berating you, it comes out of your mouth and reaches everyone around you.

So, start by changing the conversation in your own head. When you go to speak — whether it’s to your children, your colleagues, your partner, or even someone from an opposing political party — check yourself.

Is what’s coming out of your mouth kind? Are the words you are using positive, or are they critical, demeaning and cruel? Cruel words lead to cruel actions, and they leave lasting damage on a person’s psyche and emotions, especially children.

Kindness is different than niceness. Kindness requires thought, empathy, true concern for the other, and honesty. Honesty can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but necessary.
Kindness has principles. It’s not wishy-washy, bland or weak. And perhaps most importantly, when you exhibit it to another person, they can feel it. God-willing, they will want to emulate it, too.

That brings me back to men. Men are often raised to be tough, emotionless and intimidating. They are told that those traits are masculine. Kindness, like love, is often viewed as a quality of the weak. So many men think that if they are kind, that they just might get walked on, or over.

We as a society often play along with that notion. Our fear of the bully makes us laugh along as he berates his opponent with words that sting. We don’t have to look far to know the damage that all this meanness and rudeness is causing us.

The fact is, kind fathers raise strong daughters. Kind fathers raise good men.

Fathers, like mothers, often comes to their kindness in a round-about way. I know I have, and I know I wish I had come to it way earlier in my life. But, the truth is that I wasn’t raised with kindness as a guiding pillar. I was raised to be a tough, strong competitor. I was raised to make a difference in the world. I got the message — be it right or wrong — that kindness wasn’t going to help me “in the arena.”

That was a mistake because I have come to know that kindness not only helps in the arena, but it helps in every area of life.

So, on this Father’s Day, I want to shine a light on fathers who are leading from a kind space, and thus, from a strong place. I want to shine a light on men who are talking openly and honestly about their experiences as fathers, about what they learned from their own fathers, and about how they are using what they have learned to help others.

Fatherhood is, indeed, a defining role. It’s one that is being redefined by men everywhere. Today when I go out for a walk, I see men pushing baby carriages. I see them carrying diaper bags, showing up in records numbers to school functions, and showing up in equal numbers to their daughters and sons’ games.

I hear men talk about their emotional intelligence. I hear men talking about their children and how they want to be kinder, more attuned, and more involved.

My hope is that we can all exhibit more kindness towards one another because what we are exhibiting in our national discourse and in our politics is taking us down a numbing, destructive path.

Our families, our country, and our world need more kindness. Pope Francis, the father of the Catholic Church, has called for a revolution of tenderness to benefit us all. We need it.

So, on this Father’s Day, let us all celebrate the power of kindness — in men and in women. May we know that it exists within each and every one of us.

Love and kindness are among the most important and powerful pillars in a just, good and meaningful society.

My fellow Architects of Change, we can build this together.

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