Kindness is the way to change things

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

I’ve had a song stuck in my head for the past week now. The Proclaimers: I’m on my way.

When I was thinking of what to write for this article, it entered my head again: “I’m on my way, from misery to happiness today.” I even had a perfect Scottish accent. But the lyrics certainly don’t ring true for a lot of people.

That’s not to say that everybody is utterly miserable and unhappy, but it’s not exactly a utopia out there, now is it? We have just had Mental Health Awareness Week, when I found myself shocked to be told that, unless we act now, depression is going to become the world’s leading disease by 2030.

Politically, it’s a nightmare. We have a Prime Minister that was never elected initiating policies that were never in the mandate, with a Brexit vote that she never supported dominating her leadership. The so-called ‘opposition party’, meanwhile, are exhausted after a summer of backstabbing, leaving Jeremy Corbyn to scramble together another new shadow cabinet and not make a fuss about anything at all. After June’s vote, justifying UKIP’s existence now seems questionable, so they’ve decided to pass the time with a punch-up. And finally, the Liberal Democrats are an endangered species. The only thing I can really enjoy with regards to British politics is watching Ed Balls do the Samba - complete with a banana-yellow suit and bright green face - on Strictly Come Dancing. At least he’s found a way to have fun in spite of it all.

Quite honestly, it’s a mess. No wonder The Proclaimers seem too idealistic nowadays.

Clearly, something needs to be done. But I don’t think political action is the answer. Corbyn’s rise was the Labour membership’s answer to mainstream politics. The Right has seen a new-found resurgence in the form of a Brexit vote, which is itself a desperate protest vote. And now, outraged at the country’s decision, many Scottish citizens are calling for another independence referendum.

With so many problems in our society, perhaps it is understandable that people look for more extreme solutions.

But perhaps we should be looking somewhere aside from politics. Britain’s political scene certainly can feel depressing, but it’s not the cause of depression. If we want to make our society better and others happier, the answer isn’t found in a vote. Rather, it’s through simple gestures. What’s the easiest, least stressful way of changing the world?

It is to be kind.

If we were all more tolerant, more forgiving, more generous, more selfless, more patient, more compassionate, then we’d really start to see a difference. It would make my day if somebody offered to pay for my lunch, apologised for something they did, forgave me for my own mistakes or even just gave me ten minutes to listen to what’s really on my mind. It is no wonder that depression is such a problem, not because of politics, but because of how self-centred a society we live in. In the words of God from the film Evan Almighty – “You want to know how to change the world, son? One act of random kindness at a time.”

-- Tom Williams is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds