The Kindness Revolution – Hugh MacKay

Or how crises and catastrophes are the making of us in challenging times and the importance of why we (both you and me) need to show leadership in our communities from the ground up…

A Book For Our Times – Image courtesy of Allen & Unwin

As I was sitting in the reception room of our dentist last weekend, an interview with Hugh MacKay was unfolding on the tv in front of me. Hugh is Australia’s foremost social researcher, so I tuned into the interview straight away. He is always worth listening to.

Hugh was discussing his new book The Kindness Revolution. He said:

Revolutions never start at the top. If we dare to dream of a more loving country – kinder, more compassionate, more cooperative, more respectful, more inclusive, more egalitarian, more harmonious, less cynical – there’s only one way to start turning that dream into a reality: each of us must live as if this is already that country. 

The inspiration for his book was the state of Australia’s mental and emotional well being and the state of the economy after the ravages of the 2020 Australian bushfires followed by the onset of the pandemic. Hugh found himself (like many of us I suspect) reflecting on the challenges faced during this time and asked three questions that I know many of us have asked around the globe, including:

  • What really matters to me?
  • Am I living the kind of life I want?
  • What sort of society do I want us to become? 

Although his book is written regarding the Australian context, he urges all of us not to let these questions go, and points to our inspiring displays of kindness and consideration, our personal sacrifices for the common good and our heightened appreciation of the value of local neighbourhoods and communities during this time. He asks a very big question in turn: ‘Could we become renowned as a loving country, rather than simply a “lucky” one?’ 

In a recent interview in the Australian, Hugh points out:

By kindness I mean compassion, tolerance, respect, sensitivity towards other people. And the radical version is absolutely non-discriminatory; the revolution is when you are kind not just to your nice neighbour, but to the ones you don’t know or don’t like much. The pandemic has shown us we are actually quite good at this. We are a social species that can only survive by creating relatively harmonious communities, and the only rational response to that is to say, well, kindness had better be our default position.

Hugh mentions in a podcast on his book (Hugh Mackay’s simple ways to be kinder everyday) it became evident to him that there is a movement out there regarding “The New Normal.” People are categorically saying that they do not want, post pandemic, to slip back into a stressful, over committed and overwhelming life. This made him pursue the question “what does it mean to be normal?” The answer: being kind and respectful.

To emphasize his point he quotes Abraham Lincoln: The Better Angels of Our Nature. Hugh goes on to explore that being kind is the only trait that we have as a socially connected species that doesn’t require emotion. We are a socially connected species and we are hardwired towards cooperative interactions. He argues implementing kindness is not the responsibility of governments, but the responsibility of the individual. In order for us to be kind each day, he sets out his four step CARE plan:

The 4 Step CARE Plan – Image courtesy of Allen & Unwin #thekindnessrevolution 4-point CARE plan

When I went through Hugh’s 4 Step Plan, I found myself starting to feel at ease. There seems to a very familiar aspect to it. I connect by smiling and saying hello. It’s challenging at times to do this, in certain settings, but much easier when it is in your local neighbourhood. I do accept people for who they are. I take them as I find them. If you ask me for help, regardless of who you are, I will help out as best I can. With respect, as Hugh strongly points out (and many other insightful minds out there), the virus doesn’t discriminate – it attacks all humans – it doesn’t care who you are or where you come from. I don’t know If I have always been good at engagement, but I give it a good go. Yes, I do listen. Yes, I have joined and done many community things over the years. I have been a netball coach and umpire, women’s hockey coach, played cricket and hockey, participated in drug and alcohol health initiatives, breathed life into community groups that were dwindling away and fought the good fight on making communities a better place to live.

I have Hugh’s book and I have started a deeper dive into the Kindess Revolution. Already I have digested what it means to be resilient…

From my perspective, I already live how I want things to be, with kindness. I may be grumpy day in and day out, but I am a firm believer that us and the world are going to be just fine. We need to sharpen our game plan, absolutely, and get on with how the world (not just our own backyard) can be a better place. Only we, together, can do that!

Podcasts can be found here: (10 mins) (60 mins)

If you have time, watch an interview with Hugh at your leisure (60 mins)

41 Comments on “The Kindness Revolution – Hugh MacKay”

    • Thank you for your comments, Ang. Hugh in his book talks about respect and its acceptance and how it is defined from different perspectives by illustrating certain social mores and how it gets lost because of different points of view. Respect is very important to me and I will say to someone in no uncertain terms that they are disrespecting me when they cross the line.

      Liked by 4 people

  1. I love today’s blog, Sean, but am afraid that I disagree with your assessment that “we and the world are going to be just fine.” The troubles we see here in America and reflected in almost every developed country around the world are what Jesus called, “the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matthew 24:8)
    However, I certainly agree with you that as a Christ-follower, “I” should not be the source of someone else’s pain or trouble! This will mean tolerating people who believe very differently, even evil people who traffic in slavery, promote abortion, ignore science re: gender identity, try to force control on us, and being respectful even when those who do such things tear Christ-followers down. Like Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.”
    “Nothing happens TO a Christ-follower; filtered by His love, it only happens FOR us.” (Lane Martin) We MUST learn what James taught in chapter 1 of his short book, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
    So steady we go. Connect, Accept, Respect, and Engage.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I am very glad you love the post and thank you for taking the time to provide some very meaningful and gracious feedback. Matthew’s words regarding what Jesus said on the end of days is always pause for reflection. Having people such as yourself in the world does make a difference and I find this a great comfort. I like very much your conclusion with the sage words: steady we go and with CARE.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this post! Kindness is a revolution every individual can take simply by smiling at others, accepting each other, honoring differences, and being a good listener. Inspiring. I like imagining the vision of togetherness. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Wonderful post. I understand why people say they dont want to go back to the overstressed pre-pandemic times. This is a high time to introspect, and treat everyone with kindness(kindness could be integrated with a capitalist model too). You raised a deep point, that changes and revolutions originate from people in bottom to up manner. But the best thing about the post is – “From my perspective, I already live how I want things to be, with kindness.”. It’s great to see, you are not just suggesting, but also demonstrating. Like a good leader and responsible citizen

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your very kind, thoughtful and touching words, Mayank. When it is all said and done, it will always come back to us individually, to make a difference to our own lives and that of others. I look forward to hearing from you again 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this wonderful and “true” post. Yes kindness is humanity’s default setting but we forget that down the way. One of the pandemic lessons is that we are all interconnected and for one to be happy and safe all have to be. Simple wisdom! Was so happy to read a post like this early in the morning! It set the right perfect note for the day

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad that this post resonated with you and it set the right note for you for the day ahead, Shammi 😊 Thank you for such enlightened comments and observations. Yes, we are all interconnected, and we do need to remind ourselves each day why its important to be happy and safe together 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Step one reminds me of a time when I arrived at a bus station smiling because I was having a good day. An older gentleman, watching me, said, “It’s so good to see a smile.” So I smiled even bigger and thanked him. I left feeling a deeper contentment for brightening someone’s day.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for penning and reminding us once more of the need to live an examined life.
    A great read – I hope I can read the book some day soon, including Abraham Lincoln’s.

    My comment was getting too long. So, I’m turning it into a post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is no such thing as a comment getting too long around here 😊 Thank you for sharing this post and in turn creating a post full of thought and heart 😊😊😊 I hope you can read the book one day and more about Abraham Lincoln too 😎

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good to know that a comment can never be too long here. Noted.
        You just never know where the inspiration might come from. The post was inspiring and a reminder to us all.
        Thanks again for sharing your nuggets of wisdom.
        Yes, I’ll put the books on my list. 🙏🏾🙏🏾

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Kindness Revolution – Hugh MacKay – ThinkTalk

    • Yes, I agree. We should be saving the world’s languages and cultures. Where I am, the Nyoongar or Noongar (one of our aboriginal groups) has an oral language. It also has 14 dialects representing each region within the area occupied by the Noongar people. Some areas have large populations and others do not. Although Noongar is a common language across the 14 dialects, there are also words only know to each group, representing in the main, the natural environmental differences for each region. Their language has such intricacies that include recognising six seasons instead of four. There is also Engish mixed into their language too.


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