Third-year Lisa Anderson remembers a time when she was passing out buttons for her project. A girl was walking past her with a frown on her face and Anderson’s immediate reaction was to go and try to cheer her up. She said it turned out that the girl with the frown was having a really tough day and just wanted someone to just listen to her. Anderson stood there and talked to her enough to make the girl feel heard and validated. She said it’s the little things that will make a big difference in the long run.
Anderson said she believes that if you have the ability to help someone, you should.
Anderson is conducting her final project for her feminist theory class on the practice of kindness. Her project, Be a Nice Human, is a call to action to the Western community to raise awareness about the importance and value that it has within society.
Anderson is requesting that individuals send in photos or stories of them performing or receiving an act of kindness to her Instagram page or email. She hopes to see generous acts stem from this reminder and hopefully spread throughout campus.
“My belief is if you’re a kind person, a welcoming person, you’re going to be more ready to have a difficult conversation if you have a difference with someone,” Anderson said. “It creates an inclusive society that doesn’t exclude anybody.”
Anderson said that kindness is vital due to its ability to bridge the differences in a diverse society, expand one’s worldview and create a society built on mutual respect. She has created buttons that she is passing around campus reading Be a Nice Human. Anderson said this practice often gets thrown to the wayside because it’s hard for people to be vulnerable.
“[It] seems like people associate kindness with weakness, and it definitely is not a weakness. I think it says more about you – if you’re willing to be open and kind – than it does to be closed off,” Anderson said.
Eva Waltz, former leader of the Acts of Kindness Club believes that with positivity and love, change can organically grow to mold society.
“Kindness is important because it is so simple—but makes a world of change.”
Waltz said due to her busy schedule, she is not active in the club now, but still values the impact that a smile or a sincere compliment has within society.
She believes that being nice and caring is simple. From holding a door for someone, to smiling at a stranger, to giving someone a compliment, a random act of compassion can be the difference between someone feeling alone and feeling loved and appreciated.
Finding Anderson’s campaign on the NextDoor app, Karen Johanson wanted to contribute to Be a Nice Human; she talked about her experience of running a boxing-based wellness program. Through this program she saw kindness from coach to fighter and vice versa sharing stories and resources to help each other battle Parkinson’s disease.
Johanson said sympathy and empathy is important and necessary to society, especially now when there seems to be so much public discord and meanness.
So far, she has gotten only a handful of responses and is hoping more students will engage. To be a part of Anderson’s project or get more information you can contact her on her Instagram @beanicehumanwwu or at her email, email@example.com.