More than kindness

You have to search for it among a plethora of negative news, but kindness has also made the news recently.  The Washington Post included an article about the ripple effect of kindness – How a kindness contagion improves lives, especially now – and Harvard Business Review’s article presented the economic benefits of kindness (Making Kindness a Core Tenet of your Company).  I actually addressed our students on this topic, but I noted that kindness isn’t always enough.

Below you will find excerpts of my Chapel Talk to students last week:

First, let me take this time to remind you that we take our values very seriously.  I have posted them here [Our values were displayed on the screens] as I have done in the past, as a reminder of what we have all agreed to live by.  We spend less time talking about rules around here, but we talk a lot about values.  I know you explore these through LCV (Leadership, Character, Values), Thrive, House meetings, advisor groups, and classes, especially our new Harkness-style classes where you get to practice communicating different views, disagreeing respectfully and listening deeply.  Most important, I love that we come together four times per week in our chapel, where we all come together as a community to celebrate, sing, sometimes to mourn, and always to reflect.  This is the soul of our school.

We strive for a culture of kindness here, and our culture is something we value enormously.  Now culture is generally understood to mean how we do things around here, and we have a long history of a strong culture of goodness.  I hear our alumni talk about this passionately, and I hope that one day, I will get to have dinner with you, when you are adults and living somewhere new and working somewhere meaningful, when we meet with your friends and classmates.  Inevitably, our conversation will turn to our unique culture.

But this morning is about more than kindness and culture; I want us to think about standing up and doing what you know is right…what is good… And, sometimes, that takes courage.

So much of what we stand for at LCS is about figuring out who you are and what you believe and then having the courage to stand up for that.

My expectation for you – for all students here – is kindness and courage.

In order to live by our values, it is not enough to talk about them; we must take action.  What does that look like?  For starters, as I’ve said many times: we ask good questions, try our best, be kind.

It also means we own our behavior.  We actively seek solutions to our disagreements.  We build positive and nurturing relationships.  We work to build trust, and rebuild trust when it has been broken.  We forgive.

Please be kind and care for one another, and may you always have the courage to pause and reflect on your values before you act, and may you always have to courage to speak out and act to be a force for good in our community.

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