Rediscovering how to act kindly

Photo by Brenda Lin

The Consensus Opinion from the Feb. 13 Technique issue raised some valid concerns about Tech’s culture. I highly encourage you to read the article in question,  but even if you do not, I would like to expand on an issue associated not only with Tech, but the outside world as well: unkindness.

At a notoriously difficult school where students continuously struggle to meet class demands, kindness can easily be overlooked. When I say kindness, I tend to stick with the classic Webster’s definition of “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” Students are by no means required to go out of their way to engage in friendly, generous, and considerate behavior, but I feel students should try to uphold these qualities whenever possible.

When John Nash developed game theory in the mid-twentieth century, he envisioned Americans as snake-like creatures waiting to devour their prey; he equated humans to conniving, scheming individuals with overtly selfish tendencies. Some would argue Nash’s interpretation holds true today. I disagree.

Even with the Social Networking Era allowing people to dissociate themselves from the more nuanced facets of relationships, I refuse to believe that individuals do not have the capacity to maintain a level of kindness towards one another.

Selfishness, indifference, and hostility all contribute to this phenomenological lack of kindness. Regardless of the source, individuals should take it upon themselves to notice when these qualities start affecting their actions towards others.

At Tech, I often feel students let their workloads dictate their thoughts and, ultimately, actions. With classes being so difficult, students often forget that Tech is a wonderful place, from which a degree is seen as quite valuable.

They forget the feeling of excitement they got upon receiving  their acceptance letter from Tech and start to turn on the institution. This is not the only cause of the lack of kindness, but it is certainly a powerful one that I am sure many students will be able to relate to.

I recognize that this is a global problem, as even the modern media focuses primarily on negativity. In the political arena, politicians spread accusatory, malicious gossip that creates a hostile environment.

Broadly speaking, people have a well-known tendency to overlook accomplishments and focus on failures. I feel individuals should take notice of these tendencies in the world around them as well as  within themselves. Although changing the world’s unkind culture is a seemingly insurmountable task, changing Tech’s unkind culture — while not entirely realistic — is relatively achievable.

I only ask that when you feel yourself turning on Tech and resorting to feelings of unkindness, you remember how fortunate you are to be going to a world-renowned institution. Moreover, do not let those feelings of hostility influence your interactions with others.

Remember: actions go a long way. Little things like paying for your friend’s Starbucks, responding to your mother’s fourth text message, holding the impossibly heavy CULC door open for another student, and helping that overly anxious friend with homework are only a handful of actions that can express kindness, and help promote a more friendly campus.