Just in case you missed it, yesterday – November 13 – was World Kindness Day. As part of the global festivities, I was interviewed by Rosie Ifould in the latest issue of Psychologies Magazine about the relationship between kindness and empathy. As I point out, kindness is not without its problems:
‘It can sometimes be a little too easy to describe actions as “kind”. If a wealthy individual gives away some money to a charity, how valuable is their gift if it hasn’t involved much of a personal sacrifice?’
‘I once interviewed rich Guatemalan oligarchs who were sometimes “kind” to their indigenous coffee plantation workers – for instance giving them days off for special Mayan festivals. But these same oligarchs also exploited their workers terribly, paying them less than the minimum wage and subjecting them to racist abuse. Kindness does not necessarily require having a sense of social justice, which is one of its weaknesses.’
You can read the full interview here.
On a related matter, some people try to be kind to themselves by shopping. But as I discuss in a recent article on the art of shopping in The Observer Magazine, we are in danger of making a Faustian bargain.