Make kindness a priority in politics

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Kindness is not a term well recognized in 2019.

I was reflecting on this after reading two very different articles Thursday morning. Flipping through my Twitter feed, I began reading David Axelrod’s commentary for CNN on Beto O’Rourke’s political process. In the article, Axelrod ponders if O’Rourke’s message of reconciliation might not sit well with Democrats who are eager to seek recourse against Donald Trump’s divisive, angry tone and the damage he has done with his reactive policies. It is a fair question given the political climate in Washington right now.

Diving deeper into the social media abyss, I saw a second article on a new social media campaign by Hello!, a British tabloid, called #hellotokindness. While it began as a response to the increased and abusive comments targeted at the Royal Family, the campaign serves a much wider and more important purpose: reintroducing the concept of kindness into how we think, speak and most importantly, act.

It is easy to understand why kindness feels lost of late in our daily lives. I grew up in part — while my father, John Kerry, served in the Senate — in the halls of a Senate that was about reaching common understanding, shared goals, but most importantly, mutual respect for differing viewpoints. It is an example my father demonstrated throughout his career.

Today, our government is overwhelmingly setting an example of contempt for differences, name calling, one-upmanship and a politicization of each other’s values. I am not surprised we just witnessed our longest shutdown in history.

I am especially appalled by the positions of the Trump administration. They reflect the exact “un-empathy” and unkindness that I feel has become all too common inside and outside of Washington. We have witnessed thousands of families being separated at our border, inflicting deep set trauma on those individuals and the nation. We have seen millions become uninsured, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, at the end of 2017. The US Census Bureau estimated that in the same year, the amount of uninsured children increased by about 276,000 — making the total of uninsured children in 2017 nearly four million.

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