In case you missed it, this announcement: The University of California at Los Angeles has recently announced the establishment of the **UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute. The institute will be devoted to the study and promotion of kindness as a personal and civic virtue. The donors are especially interested in how kindness connects with other social sciences, and with the practice of mindfulness.
When I read about this new effort at UCLA, I was struck by the possibility that research and encouragement of kindness could also focus on older adults—both as subjects of the studies and as partners in the proliferation of this valuable human trait. Those of us who are older may have vantage points that could be useful for researchers and academics—we’ve experienced boatloads of compassion and perhaps accumulated insights and skills that could be transferred to others.
It’s fairly obvious that all of the world’s religions name kindness—or its connected virtues—as central to their faith practices, so perhaps the Institute may benefit from taking into account the learnings of spiritual people over millennia. Those of us who gather in Judeo-Christian congregations hold dearly to the embedded centrality of charity to our identity and mission. Scriptural examples instruct and encourage us.
One interesting feature of the proposed outcomes for the Institute’s work: The correlations of kindness/mindfulness with other applications of social science to daily life. For example, kindness as an element in diminishing racism; kindness as part of values training for children; kindness as an antidote to depression.
*In previous years, The Kindness Institute (https://thekindnessinstitute.com) was established in New Zealand, especially focused on the practice of mindfulness and yoga.
** For a thorough report about the new Institute, including a background interview, see http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-bedari-kindness-institute-humane-societies .