Monday, April 18, 2011

Be Kind

These 2 little words constitute so many foundational principles. I recall when our oldest was tiny; it was these words along with Be Careful that would be a precursor to nearly every outing.

I took this same boy (now so much bigger) to check out a new school recently. The administration looked at the eager faces of prospective students and said "We only have 1 rule in this school, it’s “Be Kind”". We heard this repeated a few times throughout the evening – to the point it got a little old and I realized essentially what they were saying was all the other rules still apply, we’ll just boil it down to how breaking any of those is somehow not being kind – therefore, don’t do it.

Having 3 small children, I try to interpret what an adult is saying to my child by way of considering what my child actually hears. At one point in the evening a staff person did not like my son and his friend play kicking at each other (as boys do – it was nothing extreme in any way). She said “Boys, don’t do that, one of you might get hurt, then it would no longer be kind. Our only rule here is to be kind – you can do anything else you want here as long as you are kind”.

My son of course heard “You can do anything you want as long as you are kind” So! He thought this was the school for him. He told me, he can run in the halls, he can be loud; he can do ANYTHING he wants because that is what he heard. I could totally envision him arguing that with teachers and any other staff who chose to challenge him. In the end, I don’t think this school is such a great fit.

We are all taught at an early age to “Be Kind”. It’s one of those golden preschool rules that should not lose its emphasis as we get older, yet somehow it does.

Easter is a significant season for those of many faiths. We believe that Christ showed the ultimate kindness (that word doesn’t do it justice nearly at all) through the crucifixion and resurrection.

I don’t know the history of the bunny or where it comes into play (I’m not going to research it here if that’s okay – too much of a digression, but if you know, leave a comment with a summary for me). Chocolate also is connected (again, I don’t know the significance, unless it is just a marketing thing in that chocolate works for any & every occasion).

So Easter is like playing a bit of duck, duck, goose – except lets call it Kind, Kind, UnKind.
Death & resurrection of Jesus – Ultimate Kind
Easter bunny & chocolate treats – Kind
Easter dresses, hats, flowers, traditional celebrations etc – Oh, most definitely kind!
Making those cute little chocolate bunnies & eggs – UNKIND

I’m sorry; there is nothing cute, cuddly, kind, fluffy, beautiful, kind, yummy, pleasant or kind about child labor. But that’s how we get our chocolate.

So, do we work to reflect kindness by our actions or our words? What if (like U-pick strawberry farms), we could go right to the source. Would you still buy that chocolate if you knew it came at a very high, very harmful cost to a child somewhere across the world? If your eyes saw and your ears heard, would that 1 pound bunny in your child’s eager hand Easter morning still hold the same appeal? Is it worth the money you paid for it?

Still don’t believe me? Google “chocolate child labor” and see what comes up.

This BBC article summarizes it well. The video version if you have a few minutes; part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

I will admit. I was in Wal-Mart a few weeks back and I purchased a small chocolate bunny & a few chocolate eggs for each of my kids. I really wish I hadn’t. I wish I had taken a few of my previous posts to heart and done my research first. I knew a bit, of course, but like I said in a post long ago, it’s like my fingers were still in my ears and I was humming a little bit too loud to really pay attention.

This is a complicated topic and one that will require lots of thought – and research. Fair trade IS increasing in accessibility, but there’s still a long way to go. We, the consumers, have the chance to really show kindness by letting the mass producers know we don’t like this. Supporting the fair trade businesses will show with our actions that we have a social responsibility to be kind. Even when we may never see who we are being kind to.

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