What do the Pope and Mount Tamalpais School have in common? While this sounds like the set up to a good joke, I was thrilled to read both Pope Francis and MTS are focused on the same thing – building with kindness.
In his New Year’s eve homily, Pope Francis spoke about the power that each of us has to shape society through each of our individual, small actions. Using driving as his example, the Pope praised people “who move in traffic with good sense and prudence.” He called such people, “artisans of the common good.” David Brooks, reflecting on the Pope’s words writes, “Once people understand what is normal around here, more people tend to drive that way, too, and you get this amplified, snowball effect. Kindness breeds kindness. Aggression breeds aggression.”
I love the phrase “kindness breeds kindness.” Our community mantra this year, “Build with Kindness” is grounded in the same thought that kindness yields kindness which in turn builds community. While the Pope’s words and Brooks’s article will hopefully speak to our students – I just sent it to our faculty to possibly share in morning meeting or advisory – it offers each of us a wonderful opportunity to build with kindness ourselves and to discuss kindness with our children.
Most of us spend a fair amount of time behind the wheel. Each time we hit the road we have the opportunity to drive as the Pope instructs: “with good sense and prudence.” Doing so – driving with kindness – will inspire others to do the same. Even more importantly it will teach our children that we are sensical and prudent. Given that our children pay far more attention to how we drive than we care to admit – yes, my son, Harrison, has called me out a few times – and that cars are a great place for a family discussion, consider sharing the Pope’s advice on driving and its connection to MTS.
Whether in the classroom, at recess, or as students pass in the hall, I regularly see our students and teachers being kind. We are developing “artisans of the common good” and love working in partnership with you, our families, in this most important work. David Brooks ended his piece on the Pope’s advice with the words “I’m going to try to remember one lesson when I hit the road: Though I may be surrounded by idiots, I’m potentially an artisan for the common good.” As I head off to recess duty, I am going to try to remember that I am surrounded by children, the artisans of our good future.
And, if the discussion about driving and kindness doesn't take hold, your family can always try to come up with a good punch line to the joke, “What do the Pope and MTS have in common?”
- Andrew Davis