UPDATE Feb. 22, 2016 / Today we’re remembering George Washington’s birth on Feb. 22, 1732, when this nation’s founder was born at his father’s plantation on Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
The first President of the United States wrote Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation, a collection of maxims focused on proper social graces of the time period.
Those rules helped to inspire Kindness in Naperville (KIN) in 2011.
Rule No. 65 / Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest. Scoff at none although they give Occasion.
UPDATE June 21, 2015 / As we reflect on the wide range of human and stormy events that touched our lives this past week, Father’s Day and first day of Summer 2015 just seemed like a good time to re-post this Kindness In Naperville (KIN) campaign that was launched at the beginning of 2011. Note that from time to time, updates with feedback from readers have enhanced this story.
Since the days of Joe Naper, our city has been blessed with a generous spirit of caring, accompanied by volunteers who reach out during tough times and rainy days to help folks in need. Thanks to all.
Posted Oct. 17, 2013 / Mindful that there are two sides to every story, we are grateful to a loyal reader who sent a post on BBC News, “Can kindness movements make a difference?” The article provides some thoughts to ponder at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24548023.
In our view, considering how recklessly rude some folks choose to be in these days of electronic devices, throwing thoughts onto Twitter as well as driving too fast while texting, we’re happy to report most folks we’ve encountered still are more likely to err on the side of civility and kindness.
Considering the waits and obstacles, folks must adjust time and speed limits when necessary. The BBC News report also reminded us that we’d like to see less litter along the parkways.
Here’s hoping adults are motivated toward common courtesy and respect for nature as models for our youth. Creating awareness to promote the common good that’s accomplished by everyday people always is key when celebrity and sensational stories seem too often to grab the headlines. Thank you for reading. —PN
Embrace KIN as a grassroots community movement
Editor’s Update April 27, 2013: Considering the news of today, timing just seemed appropriate to re-post this KIN campaign that was launched in January 2011.
Originally Posted January 2011 / For several years, a number of PN readers had pitched ideas to promote kindness, respect and good manners. Several readers mentioned the “Random Acts of Kindness” campaigns as examples to emulate.
One reader returned from a trip to Minnesota where residents are considered “Minnesota Nice,” adhering to friendly, courteous and mild-mannered behavior. Searching online, we found Minnesota Nice was defined as “an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, emotional restraint and a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out.”
Consider traffic behavior. When someone slows down to allow another driver to enter a lane in front of the other person, that’s “Minnesota Nice.”
Others have wondered if the fast pace of the new-age with so much to learn and communicate has been a distraction, eating up time while failing to teach the foundation of character education to our youth. Basic manners are missing.
Guess what? Advocating kindness is nothing new!
Back in the 1700s when America’s founder George Washington was a teenager, he focused on writing “110 Rules of Civility in Conversation Amongst Men,” influenced by even earlier writings from 1664.
For instance, Washington wrote, “Speak not when others speak, sit not when others stand, and walk not when others stop.”
If you search for “George Washington’s rules of civility” online, you’ll find many rules still apply to today.
While we were trying to come up with a slogan, we also tested some “nice” ideas in quasi focus groups.
One participant mentioned when she presented the idea of promoting “nice” to a board of directors on which she served, she practically was laughed out of the room.
Several men, almost in unison, replied, “Nice guys finish last.”
Still, we persisted in our pursuit. We came up with “Kindness in Naperville, a grassroots community movement to promote good-natured civility.”
We’ll call “Kindness in Naperville” KIN for short, mindful of family.
If folks want to mock us for trying and striving to be considerate, courteous, compassionate, caring, accepting, loving, forgiving, helpful, joyful, peaceful, faithful, patient, gentle, truthful, reasonable and self-controlled (hard as it can be for outspoken individuals who are mindful of unintended consequences), welcoming and independent; so be it.
Call us Pollyannas. It’s a free country. Diversity and opinions absolutely are welcome.
As we strive to begin every year with more optimism than we began last year, we find ourselves reminiscing. Our thoughts turn to a fortune cookie fortune we enjoyed long ago:
Be kind whenever possible. It’s always possible.
Whatever the circumstances, everyone can resolve to be kind even in the most spirited and/or disagreeable moments. Respect goes both ways.
We consider civility to mean well-mannered, the unenforced standards of conduct and common courtesy which demonstrate that a person is proper and polite instead of rude.
Civility is far more than the spoken word. Civility is listening. Civility implies practicing decent public behavior while dining out, opening doors, waiting, talking on the phone, texting, sending e-mails, driving, bicycling, walking, volunteering, etc.
For example, when you’re walking down the sidewalk four abreast and several folks are walking toward you, move to the right, single file, to allow both groups to pass. In fact remind yourself whenever walking and driving, “This is America. Keep to the right.”
The KIN campaign was launched on January 1, 2011, with input from Bev Frier, Beverly Eigenberg and a number of members of the Rotary Club of Naperville/Downtown. Thanks for help spreading the word.
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Since 1979, this stone marker dedicated to Clyde “Budd” Netzley, Rufus Dirck Schumacher and Harry E. Ridley has been a place to pause and reflect about “What we need.” After the Naperville Riverwalk began developing in 1981 as the city’s sesquicentennial gift to itself, the path eventually led to this location just west of the foot bridge across the DuPage River.
What We Need
Remember kind words of Mother Teresa…
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
“Peace begins with a smile… Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”