“There is no path to kindness. Kindness is the way.”.
Thus opened the meeting Claudio Coppini, RVS Radio speaker in charge of external relations for the Adventist Institute, introducing the guests who spoke at the event, including: Alessia Bettini, deputy mayor, and Assessor culture, tourism, participation, active citizenship, maintenance and decorum, Ambassador of Kindness in the project Italia Gentile who in Florence, a Gentile municipality, has organized two festivals of kindness; Massimo Mori, physician, poet and writer of essays and articles; Franco Cracolici,acupuncturist physician, philosopher, president of Sipnei Toscana; Giovanni Varrasi, psychiatrist and psychotherapist; then Filippo Alma, lecturer at the Adventist Faculty of Theology. His thesis, “Welcoming the Other in Diversity,” strongly calls for a sense of kindness that takes root deep inside and cannot be just a manifestation of good manners in relationships.
Alessia Bettini opened the discussion by testifying to how much kindness may have affected the way she carries herself, even in her institutional role, and how successful she has been in bringing about the desired changes not by starting from redoubtable or hierarchical positions, but by adopting simple acts of kindness that inspire in turn to perform others even with different people. He argues that he believes in kindness as an indispensable paradigm to be adopted and points out that in that construction of the we, of no one is saved alone, we must start with ourselves and carefully cultivate a deep sense of kindness as a choice of a conscious, responsible and therefore kind lifestyle.
Anna Maria Palma who expressed herself thus, “I think that in recent times we have moved too much to saying and consequently too little to doing and less than ever, to being. In the much said, we often abound in complaint and criticism, both of which should be placed shrewdly in the landscape of kindness. It seems functional to me to share in this forum the importance of bringing attention back to the basic paradigms of communication. It is impossible not to communicate. Any word you say, any gesture you make communicates something. Even when you do not speak, or when you do not act, you are communicating something. Deep awareness of this, deep attention to this. And thus deep responsibility, which becomes, with proper training, response ability.
What should help us inhabit this dimension? The desire, the deep intention not to treat anyone badly, never to consider people, recipients of some threat, some aggression, even micro-aggression. When we think of the words mistreatment, threat, and assault, albeit micro, it comes almost naturally to think of something strong, physical. It does not have to come to this to experience feelings of discomfort. The second and third paradigms I want to consider here together: “In every communication there is a content aspect and a relationship aspect,” “The how prevails over the what.”
Kindness does not necessarily contemplate that the content of a relationship is always a compliment, an appreciation, a caressing interest in you, the manifestation of a loving feeling…kindness contemplates that when the content of the communication represents the manifestation of discomfort, the correction of a possible mistake, the disregard of a probable expectation, the misalignment with some idea, the relationship remains healthy. From the words used to express that content should never result in tampering with the relationship. We often try to secure it with the phrase “I love you, but…” empty phrase if “I love you” is not matched by “I treat you well.” And if I have an altered voice, if I am complaining and even threatening, I do not have that kindness in my heart that represents a real art.
The etymology of this word, seems to derive from the Aryan root ar- which in Sanskrit means to go toward, and in a translational sense, to adapt, to make, to produce; a root we find in the Latin ars. Originally, therefore, the word “art” had a practical meaning in the sense of skill in a productive activity, the ability to do harmoniously, in a suitable manner.
Kindness in practice, the ability to do harmoniously, in a way that suits every circumstance, every context, in spite of the most disparate notwithstanding!”
Dr. Massimo Mori addressed the meaning of kindness in movement by anticipating and proposing to the audience an experience of meditation in movement.
Through a harmonious transition from the mapu position to the flow of the hands, an energetic current was created that allowed us to put ourselves in a conscious listening mode for the subsequent interventions.
Dr. Franco Cracolici recounted his Friday as a doctor, testifying how moving from ward to ward in various hospitals, encountering people in singular suffering, accompanies the placement of needles with an approach of welcome and kindness that moves from smiles to benevolent gaze, guaranteed vehicles if not of healing, of deep care.
Dr. John Varrasi summarized that what is expressed in the book taken as the inspiration for the current conversation fills the concept of kindness with dozens of cultural and spiritual declinations and afferents, so that all criticisms aimed at considering the term only as a synonym for good manners, politeness, even hypocrisy, are sent back to the senders too crude or in bad faith.
Finally, Prof. Philip Alma who, in addition to testifying with a kind of small post to the value of the kindness expressed in the book, beyond the far more significant kindness he encounters in his profession and his profession of faith, tells a delightful incident, somewhat inspired by the book’s cover. As he is about to take the tramway, busy making a ticket he realizes that he does not have suitable currency to do so, and a lady observing him offers to do so, later commenting with a glance at the cover note that he may consider it an act of kindness.
The meeting closed with space for questions and among them, “
But can being kind be equivalent to being good enough to be considered stupid?
We who write and read about kindness, especially committed to practicing it, have the conscious, attentive, skillful response: kindness that allows one to cultivate a goodness that is not goodism, in the complexity of what this word expresses, can never result in stupidity.
What took place at the Adventist Institute “Villa Aurora” is meant to be the beginning of a project that will come to life in 2023: a permanent laboratory of kindness, a participatory experience that will involve people engaged in the daily practice of this valuable paradigm. What emerges from their work will be supplemented by the contributions of professionals from different disciplines and then give rise to a sort of traveling book on kindness in order to witness that there isno way to kindness, kindness is the way.
Anna Maria Palma, Professional Counselor, Emotional Intelligence Coach author of numerous articles and texts on relationship quality, kindness.