Word by Imogen Vander
If I were to remember one thing from my mother, it would be her saying three simple words, ‘Just be kind’.
From a young age, I was taught being kind made you a better person. So, like any other 10-year-old, self-conscious girl with braces and a side braid, I harnessed it. Kindness became my superpower.
Over the years, I grew witness to the fading of kindness. As the hearts around me wilted from the cruelties of the world, the value of kindness depreciated to those around me. ‘I have other things to worry about,’ they would say, ‘it’s too hard.’ Little did they know kindness is the art of making things better.
Too often, people forget the importance of kindness. For some this superpower is mistaken for weakness. A twisted paradox of human nature. ‘Be kind, but not too kind.’
What if kindness had no bounds? What if we built towers of love and listening? If we traded compliments as freely as currency? What if we designed our world with a paintbrush coated in kindness? While at the Centre for Inclusive Design, I have seen what happens when we are kind to everyone and it’s beautiful.
I attended the Global Impact Summit in the final week of my internship. Here I was introduced to the work of Hugh Mackay, who said, ‘To be kind…always and to everyone…is to be fully, gloriously human, and every act of kindness is one more step towards a better society’.
In this moment, I realised the common thread between my passion for inclusive design, my work at the Centre, and a newfound connection to self and those I had the pleasure of working alongside, was kindness.
The theory of kindness draws many parallels to the theory of inclusive design. To be empathetic to the needs of others, regardless of ability, background, or circumstance
underpins both, but to combine the two can unlock new services, products, and experiences reflecting the uniqueness and beauty of humanity. Recognising and valuing diversity by harnessing kindness leads to a better design for all.
If we design the world with kindness, it will become contagious. To initiate a ripple effect and ensure it does not exhaust, we must co-design and promote equal participation throughout communities which have traditionally been excluded. By embracing kindness as a guiding principle, we can build a new world where diversity is celebrated, barriers are dismantled, and a mother does not have to teach her daughter to ‘just be kind’, because it will be intertwined in all aspects of life.
Design the world with kindness, and it will be a better world for you and me.