June 29, 2018 Common Good

Kindness that Builds Social Fabric

Yesterday we read about how kindness is done together.

The [second] is, “How do we, together, allow me to do it individually?”…

… when I show kindness as an individual act in a competent community, I not only feel good but also am rewarded for being kind. This is a community that creates space for me to be kind and values it. It is a context in which kindness is welcome, appropriate, rewarded, and valued. In this context, kindness is nurtured. If, on the other hand, in the context of the consumer way, the meal is ordered and delivered from a restaurant, it is still a kind act. The problem is that while it is good for the economy, it does not build the social fabric of the neighborhood.

Families and neighborhoods become abundant and functional again when they invest enough in each other that gifts, association, and hospitality become commonplace in the collective.

There is a pizza shop in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati where someone began the practice of secretly picking up the bill for another family’s meal. This passing it forward has continued. For years now, there is a culture of generosity that reminds patrons that kindness is possible and it builds curiosity, play, and generosity. And the kids eat it up. What a simple, light-hearted way to model kindness to children!

Consider one public or community space that you frequent (maybe a coffee shop, a farmers market, a gas station, or a park). How could you and a few friends create a scenario that rewards individual kindness in this space?




McKnight, John. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (pp. 72-73). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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