Try a little kindness

Firmbee, Pixabay

“You’ve been hacked.” It’s true, the email address of my local church fell into the hands of hackers; a fraudulent email was distributed to many if not all addresses in our church email database. We have now fixed all this, but it was a wake-up call. Stay vigilant everyone. Corroborate any suspicious message. Don’t even trust your dead grandmother. Our email address and system are once again totally secure–well as much as is possible given the ingenuity, pestilence and outright criminal intent of those without better things to do. Hospitals, universities, booksellers, banks, governments, all have been victims of cyber-attacks. The endless scams targeting consumers and citizens continue unabated. The worst news in all this however is that I fell for the swindle. Quick action with my credit card supplier blocked the pending transaction; and a new card with a new number is in the mail.

One action our team initiated following contact with the RCMP was to contact Global News in Kelowna to spread the word to parishioners and others resident in our database, to ensure folks deleted the message and to take no action in response to the fraudster’s request. In conversation with the Global News reporter, he said they would include the name of the Church (all news, even bad news, is good news) but not name any of the individuals affected. He said that in the present social media climate, there is no way to discourage disparaging comments and to limit the damage they create.

His comment got me thinking: Is there no safe online place for conversation anymore? Does every informational article require comment moderation? Why are social media comments so malicious in tone and vacant in thought? Is it simply meanspirited behaviour shared in an unregulated and undisciplined space? Have online fora degenerated into a quagmire of uninformed, reactive, shallow, and conflict-ridden environments?

And then there’s politics. Nicola Sturgeon, recently resigned First Minister of Scotland notes “the nature and form of modern political discourse means there is a much greater intensity – dare I say it, brutality – to life as a politician than in years gone by.” She is joined in her experience by New Zealand’s now former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who in her resignation speech describes “a significant increase in threats of violence, particularly from conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine groups infuriated by the country’s vaccine mandates and lockdowns.” Need I mention our Canadian Identity politics truckers’ convoy?

Closer to home here in British Columbia NCP MLA Melanie Mark resigned in February describing the BC legislature as a “torture chamber.”  “I think the opposition are absolutely awful” she said. “Women are treated worse than men in politics and that much effort goes into making them look stupid . . . The nastiness from white men in here is awful.”

If we thought such acrimony, such a lack of compassion is unique to our age, think again. The founder of the World Wide Web (WWW) Tim Berner-Lee said “I was devastated” as he watched what some users laid over his technology. He knew that his invention could, in the wrong hands, become a “destroyer of worlds.” Then there is Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite regretted his invention as he saw it used for warfare and killing. His will established the Nobel Prize (after fights over his inheritance by family members subsided). Recipients of the prize to this day are those who have “conferred the greatest benefit on humanity.” It’s a marvellous legacy, from such conflicted origins.

Then these was the Atom bomb, a project successful due to Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein. Later, both of them expressed regret over the invention of the nuclear bomb. It is said that the Oppenheimer said a phrase taken from Bhagavad Gita, “Now I become Death, to destroy the world.”

So how can we turn this macabre, angst-ridden ship around? Jacinda Ardern ended  her resignation speech hopefully: “I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go””

Imagine my delight when I saw Penticton music teacher Justin Glibbery’s Facebook post introducing the KVR Kindness Project. Kettle Valley Railway Middle School in Penticton (both our Kids attended there) was the setting for this relevant local production, a narrative extolling the virtues of kindness, a virtue that clearly needs to be taught at every educational level, here and now–in schools, clubs, churches and homes. Justin explains:

This was a great project for Real Acts of Caring week with staff from KVR Middle School. I was asked to provide some original music so I wrote a little pop tune and brought in some great musicians to help me get the tune sounding as good as I could. Great film guidance and editing by Nikos Theodosakis! All students appear with permission.

Applause for all connected with this project. Instead of meeting anger with anger, such projects encourage what is lacking: kindness, respect, and an ability to deepen relationships, in-person on the street, in the classroom, in business, through the conversations of government, in any and every place where people gather. Cue the music (I know, this sounds soppily idealistic). What else can we do however? Refusing the challenge of healing and reconciliation in the public sphere is one of the great tasks for today. We can do this people. Let’s get busy.

One thought on “Try a little kindness

Add yours

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience with us all in a well written note. I so enjoy reading them and this one of course certainly was relevant to this notion that we experience both the good and bad with a situation. The good meaning the awareness not only of unfortunate actions such as scamming but awareness of a church who did not buckle under pressure but rose to the resolving of it! I often think of James remarking about the tongue, how it too, can be for good (blessing) and bad (cursing). May we all be reminded of the good we can think, say and do!!
    Thanks Ken!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: