As I gave my children a complicated lecture about some aspect of morality, I realised that what I needed instead was some touchstone values that I can drum into them, and relate everything else back to. So I gave careful thought to what I consider the most important values – the traits that I hope my children will grow up to show. And I decided that they are to be kind and to be honest.
I did a little Google search – and in the spirit of honesty I should tell you that the reason I did it was because I wanted to find a clever little picture to insert because maybe 2016 will be the year that I actually learn to work my blog. Anyhow, I discovered that it turns out that Ralph Waldo Emerson has been entreating people to be silly, kind and honest for some time.
I played with the idea of adopting his idea in full force. But I have a 5 year old and a 7 year old, and silly kind of comes with the territory. On the whole, I am much more likely to beg them NOT to be silly. . .
So we’ll be kind and we’ll be honest.
But there’s a problem. I wonder if you’ve seen it yet? Often, if you are honest, you are also being unkind:
Think about “Do I look fat in this?”
Think about “Do you like your present?”
Think about “How was that for you?”
I mean if there is one thing that that idiot racist Penny Sparrow has taught us, it’s that some people honestly hold the most shitty, unkind thoughts. (And yes, to call someone an idiot racist is unkind. But if I said EVERYTHING I think on this topic, it would be even less kind. It’s about compromise. And a bit of honesty.)
So I’ve decided that we will order our priorities as such: Be kind first, and then be honest.
And I’m wondering if I have inadvertently hit on the formula for how to apply freedom of speech. Be honest, but once your speech becomes unkind, it might be hate speech. Think twice before you say it.
And in no place is that more important than on social media where we all seem to have forgotten the most basic tenets of kindness.
Be kind, people. And be honest.
What are your core values that you’d like to hold dear in 2016?