It’s rare to hear a leading politician speak about kindness. It doesn’t seem to fit with the usual rhetoric of ‘strength and success at any price’. Politicians are meant to be tough,
aren’t they? With thick skins. Such qualities make us feel secure. And, when hardship comes along they call us to be strong, not kind.
But, at the heart of our Prime Minister’s message to us over these weeks, now months, of Covid-19 threat, has been a consistent mantra, “Be kind”. Not directed at others or to our self – just ‘be kind’. It suggests to me an attitude rather than a set of actions we have been instructed to carry out.
 
I think Jacinda may have put her finger on something significant, for the life we were all living pre-corvid was a helter-skelter existence that whizzed us from thither to yon as our electronic diaries beeped at us with urgency. We did not have time to be kind for we were putting all our mental energy into being responsible and reliable, and yes – efficient. Kindness lay all forlorn on the altar of 2020 busyness.
 
No, perhaps kindness was buried; covered over by what society has formed us and shaped us for
– being competitive, so we win and not the other person. We are kind, yes, we are; it’s in us; it was there all the time. A smart PM knew that and reminded us at just the right time. And we have enjoyed it; feels very good.
 
So, what is all this about clean air? Well, we know that thousands, no probably millions,of Kiwi cars were garaged during lockdown. Planes were grounded; factories stilled their working chimneys, and the air we breathe became purer. With the noise of a busy city hushed the birds flew back into town, and fish swam in our harbours again because we tied up
our boats.  Wasn’t it heavenly?
 
Something that went unnoticed during lockdown was that climate change hid. It was imprisoned by covid-clamour, understandably so, for the dreaded virus was the only conversation in town. It’s all we talked about. This will pass and waiting for the world is the very issue we had a glimpse of throughout March and April – clean air … and water … and noise.
 
The pandemic arrived on our shores, and throughout the whole world, with a certain suddenness – it threatened to destroy us and smash the way
we live.  And, we responded by ‘pulling out all the stops’. We beheld the urgency and we responded. My point is that the destruction that climate change brings has the same potential to ‘kill us’ but because it’s so gentle and so gradual we always have time. But, we don’t. I can only hope that when climate change comes out of hiding the world, fresh from the experience the pandemic, will pull out all the stops once more.

How can Rotary help that happen?