OGGI (Italy's Biggest Magazine)





There are people that fight for a very rare, but essential, value.

By Serena Viviani

Milan, November 2009

Translated by Maddalena Ghezzi

A boy is looking at his map of London disorientated. He got lost! People don’t care about him. Finally a man asks him: “Do you need help?”. The boy smiles. All of a sudden some people jump out and start to clap their hands, and fire with their innocent cannons, colourful confetti to celebrate a quite rare fact: an act of kindness. Finally the man gets a medal! This value seems to have fallen into disuse or decay, but to save this dying out value, on 13th November, the world kindness day is celebrated.

“Nowadays ruling class’ are characteristically arrogant”, said the sociologist Klaus Davi, “and it rules over young people. How can it be different? Family does not have an educational role any more, school…forget about it, and on the television rudeness rules”. Even Mickey Mouse will change. It will be quarrelsome, naughty and egotistical; Disney decided that, to attract the young generations, it is better to change its character, a sentence that sounds like kindness’ funeral.

Of course it is not benevolence!

In politics there are people, like Gianni Letta, who got on top without showing off; on television there is someone who faces, smiling, the accusation of being kind just to be famous, like Fabio Fazio; there are some others who have seriously, and kindly worked for years, like Milly Carlucci. How can we defend these dying out people?

The Londoners who give medals to kind people (you can look at their educational and great videos on www.youtube.com/user/KindnessOffensive) are the most folkloristic of army brigades, to invade our Planet. Yes! It is called, The World Kindness Movement, or (WKM), and it invites us to remember this value on the 13th November, world kindness day. There is a group in Italy too (www.gentilezza.it), it is organized by a 72-year-old man, Giorgio Aissa, a successful and kind businessman who was one of the first people to give jobs to convicted people, and who opened a centre for people with disabilities. Often WKM members do fund-rising work, but their aim is to spread kindness.

Does it make you smile? It is already quite something! “A friend’s smile in the morning makes you start your day in a marvellous way” says Lina Sotis, a costume and bon ton journalist. But, is it real kindness or formal politeness? “Well it is always better than a punch in the face. Anyway there are good manners, rules to be polite, and bon ton that requests people to have a good soul”. Nowadays do “good manners” still make sense? “We don’t have to forget that “good manners” were born for political reasons; using them is a commitment, but it always rewards! Louis XIV solved plots using good manners! Good manners help to avoid resentments, hard feelings, and tons of problems. They can also save us from extinction.

“Being kind can be considered démodé in this society, in which aggressiveness, abuse of power, and disrespect for people predominate”, Lella Ravasi Bellocchio explains. “But we have to pay attention because kindness is essential, it is one of the most important characteristics in relationships. If it is dying out, it means that we are dying out too; because we are becoming arrogant, violent and unable to built rapport with people. We must find again the ability to give way to others”.

Does kindness make people weak? “Kindness is not a synonym of weakness”, Lella Ravasi Bellocchio says, “It is an important quality, it is empathy, looking to others without arrogance and judgement, but with love and care. It’s a lifestyle that changes people and the world. Kindness is something that we have inside and, if we believe in it, it will be an enormous strength.

Self-control and strength

Is kindness a winner’s quality? “Today it can be a winning quality, because it lets kind people be distinguished”, said Klaus Davi, “but it’s a difficult quality, and requires people to have self-control and to be strong”. It is not easy to be kind in certain environments in which determination becomes aggressiveness, and in which to be famous, people use verbal violence. Cesare Prandelli trains Fiorentina without insults, and Leonardo trains Milan without anger. Kaka is so lovely to deserve applause even with the “traitor” Real Madrid’s T-shirt. Giovanni Floris leads Ballarò (political talk show) without vulgarity, Raul Bova, is loved not only because he is handsome, Sergio Castellitto would never be trash… now it’s your turn. If some kind people’s names come to your mind, it means that you believe in kindness’s strength.

Under the picture page 62: London. Four volunteers invite people to join The Kindness Offensive: a campaign that supports kindness and charity. The organization that created the world kindness day is the World Kindness Movement.

Bullying can be defeated with a smile

World Kindness Movement’s founder, Louise Burfitt-Dons, uses kindness to defeat bullying. “Years ago people thought that bullying was just a physical behaviour. For me it was clear that bullying is a dangerous behaviour, which arose from society changes. My daughter was a victim, 16 young people committed suicide. I had to do something! My job was to write plays, so I decided to produce short monologues to describe the situation. It was a success! Act Against Bullying was born.

The origin of the problem was clear. Kindness, the opposite of aggressiveness, was not considered as a strength that can be used to improve society, but as a weakness. My challenge is to change this point of view”. “I went to schools, and on the television, to explain to children that aggressive behaviour between diplomats can cause wars, that excluding someone can provoke terrible feelings similar to physical pain. The native Australians use, as a punishment, ostracism, that can cause suicide”. Will Kindness be fashionable? When I explained to a group of children that our movement was part of the World Kindness Movement, someone said: Cool!…I thought: maybe they get it!”


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