The core virtue of humanity is comprised of the character strengths of love, kindness and social intelligence.
Humanity is the ability to see the connectedness of all human beings; it is the ability to help and befriend others.
One of the gifts of human beings is our ability to love. We love our families. We love our friends. We love our community, our nation and our world. It is love that motivates us to help others, to design, to create and to serve other people. The ability to love and use love to meet others' needs is a distinctly human attribute.
Kindness involves doing good deeds to help other people. With kindness, we take care of other people, thinking of their comfort and needs, possibly before our own. Kindness as a strength makes us generous and compassionate towards others. People who have this personal attribute have discovered that in the long term it is more productive to be kind than right. People with kindness as a strength have discovered that with kindness you can change the heart of an issue in a way that debating or fighting never can. William Wordsworth, the English poet (1770 - 1850) said:
''That best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.''
It is the little kindnesses that are remembered and stored in the heart and mind. Kindness is the stuff that makes us human and defines our humanity.
Social intelligence comes into play in the growth of our humanity. To be socially intelligent we have to be aware of our own motives and emotions, as well as knowing about the feelings and desires of others. We need to be socially flexible, by realizing what to do in different social circumstances. Being socially aware and being positively engaged with others creates a well-being in us. Positive engagement helps us express love and kindness and places value on close relations with others.
When psychologists studied the top ten percent of people who rated themselves ''very happy'' they found that those people spent the least time alone and the most time socializing. The fewer the number of social contacts a person has, the greater the risk for depression and ill health.
When we can express our humanity through love, kindness and positive interaction with other people, we become happier, healthier and better humans.
One might see the research as indicating that we need to practice certain skills everyday to develop our humanity. Express our love and concern for others. Do kind deeds. Interact positively with other people.
When we can help our children learn to turn their random acts of kindness into intentional acts of kindness, perhaps true humanity will flourish in our world.
Next week: Teaching Justice
Kids Talk™ is a column dealing with early childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Mrs. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland.
She has over 25 years experience working with young children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is also Creative Director for a video-based reading series for children ages three to six, The Shining Light Reading Series. Contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complete Collection of the Shining Light Reading Series Now Available on DVD
Visit www.shininglightreading.com for more information.
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