Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Might tribal conflict fatigue lead to a contagion of civility and kindness ?

A majority of both republicans and democrats express dismay over the current state of our civil discourse. Continuously stoked arousal of our brains' fear and anger systems is debilitating - a public health crisis. One wonders (hopes) whether that at some point the pendulum will slowly start to swing the other way, with people starting to perceive that the other tribes do not actually present an existential threat, and that starting to feel more civility and kindness toward "the other" can provide a major relief for stress. In this vein, I want to point to several articles on means of enhancing kindness. Schiffman asks "Can Kindness Be Taught?" and points to the Kindness Curriculum developed for preschoolers by the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, as well to other programs. Zaki describes work on Kindness Contagion showing that witnessing kindness inspires kindness, causing it to spread like a virus. Petrow's article on kindness contagion discusses Zaki's work, as well as that of others, and Bornstein writes on "Recovering the (Lost) Art of Civility."

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