Thursday, May 3, 2018

Is kindness key?

As part of my job, I read the daily announcements twice a day to my students. 

"NHS is selling 'Kindness is Key' stickers this week.... These stickers are great to put on water bottles, laptops, and cars!"

I read this every day for a week. Posters were also hanging around our hallways.

I love the sentiment! Let's be kind. Let's take care of each other. Let's make sure we all know we're welcome. Let's stop bullying. Kindness is wonderful!

But the announcement also said that proceeds go to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And that has been unsettling to me all week.

NAMI is great! I am doing the Portland walk May 20 in honor of my dad. (Join me or donate!

But I did a search of the NAMI site, and no where does it say "Kindness is Key." I do not believe that kindness is key to mental illness. A lack of kindness is not what drove my dad to overdose on his medication. More kindness would likely not have stopped my dad's death.

The key to mental illness is understanding and treatment. The key is ending the stigma. The key is getting people identified and helped. 

Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive, but I think "Kindness is Key" is a huge over simplification to an incredibly complex problem that's gripping our society - and many, many people I know and love. And while I think kindness is important in all things, I think advertising it as "key" takes away from the seriousness of the situation.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not critical of these students and their efforts - to spread kindness and also to raise money for a good cause. Their hearts are definitely in the right place. 

These are just my thoughts as someone deeply in grief over my father, who suffered terribly for his entire life, not because people weren't kind, but because he was ill. He lost his battle, but I don't want anyone else to lose theirs.

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