Have you heard the joke: How does someone from Canada cheat on a test? They secretly write on the palm of their hand, “You can do it!”
Our neighbors to the north are an unusually open, honest, nice, kind bunch. No one is perfect, but as a whole Canadians are just a friendly people. And during a brutal season of division in our country and in our relationships, we could learn a thing or two from them.
My next book, The Kindness Challenge, is about the power of kindness to transform relationships –by transforming how we think about the other person, the relationship, and ourselves. And Canada’s gift to America this week is a national example of that.
From ongoing interactions with overseas friends, colleagues and family, I have been made aware many times that the whole world is watching, with varying degrees of anxiety, as our culture tears itself apart during this brutal election season. They see the incredible negativity. The rancor. The division. And just like any close friend who watches as another person beats herself up and spirals into personal chaos, Canada stepped in.
A Canadian Ad Agency put out a call for regular Canadians to record videos and messages to America. “Tell America It’s Great” was the slogan, and the positive, uplifting, encouraging videos, posts and tweets came pouring in. Capturing all the things about America that are good, even though the bad is still there. Celebrating all that is right, even though there certainly are wrongs to be fixed. Thanking America for all we have done for the world, even though we have made our share of mistakes.
Honestly, watching the video I found myself first smiling, like “Aw, that is so nice of them,” but as it progressed I have to admit that a few tears leaked out. I know in one way it is sentimental and a bit sappy…but in another way it is EXACTLY like that friend who comes alongside someone in distress, puts an arm around their shoulders, and gives them a much, much needed word of affirmation.
It is kindness at work. And it matters. Our dry and weary culture is in desperate need of kindness in the same way that someone stumbling through the desert is in desperate need of water. Our parched, raw tissues soak it up, and it leaks out through our tear ducts.
And once we are filled up, we will be so much better able to fill up others. That is what we are missing today. That is what we must do for each other, the same way Canada just did it for us.
I know this might sound self-serving, but I wish every American would read my next book – even if they borrow it from a library or a friend – and truly grasp the unbelievable, incredible power of kindness to change a life. Change our culture. And ourselves.
I thank the people of Canada for being a living example of that, to a friend in need.
Pre-order your copy of Shaunti’s new book, The Kindness Challenge, and pass it along to everyone who needs kindness in their lives!
Wish Shaunti could speak at an event in your area? You can help! Forward this piece or others to a leader at your organization or church, with a note of recommendation. They can reach Shaunti at NDuncan@shaunti.com.
Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.