2020-2021 Pirate Read Selection: The War for Kindness

The War for Kindness by Jamil Zaki

The War for Kindness book coverIn The War for Kindness, Jamil Zaki argues that empathy is not a fixed trait we are born with; rather, Zaki through research, makes the point that empathy is a skill we can strengthen. Readers are introduced to “a former neo-Nazi who is now helping extract people from hate groups, ex-prisoners discussing novels with the judge who sentenced them, Washington police officers changing their culture to decrease violence among their ranks, and NICU nurses fine-tuning their empathy so that they don’t succumb to burnout” (“About this Book,” The War for Kindness).

Kindness Challenges

Participate in the #ECUKindnessChallenge week from October 26-30. Adapted from the Kindness Challenges created by The War for Kindness author, these research-based activities are designed to build empathy and connect you to yourself and others. We all realize that during this time we need to band together and celebrate human connection now more than ever.

The challenges are shared below but will also be shared on ECU Office of Student Transitions social media. Participate and use #ECUKindnessChallenge to be entered to win a prize!

For more information on the challenges, visit https://www.warforkindness.com/challenges.

Action Items
Challenge #1:
Be Kind to Yourself
October 26

We often think about being kind to others, but remember it is important to be kind to yourself.

Today, try giving yourself the same grace and forgiveness that you’d extend to someone close in your life. See how this helps you reconsider difficulties you are going through.

Need help learning how to be kinder to yourself? Join us on October 26, at 4:00pm for a virtual workshop on “Exercising Empathy and Cultivating Compassion” presented by the Center for Counseling and Student Development
Challenge #2:
Spend Kindly
October 27
Research suggests that people feel happier and less stressed after they act generously with their time or money. Today, make a choice to spend, time or money, on someone else.

Write a letter for senior care residents or elementary school students. Register to complete a letter in person (social distancing rules apply) or submit virtually.

Or donate to the Purple Pantry to support other Pirates. Visit the Purple Pantry Amazon Wish List to donate items that will be sent directly. Click here to learn more about the Purple Pantry.

Challenge #3: Disagree Better
October 28

Today, find someone you disagree with, but instead of talking about only your opinions, try to find the stories (and humanity) underneath your points of view. See if you can find mutual respect or understanding even if you don’t end up agreeing (which is fine).

The ECU Creed states that as an East Carolinian, you will “respect and appreciate the diversity of our people, ideas, and opinions. I will be thoughtful and responsible in my words in actions.” Lauren Thorn will share some thoughts about how disagreeing better ties into the ECU Creed.

Do you need an example of positive civil discourse? Join the Cupola Conversation to be held November 12 at 4:00pm.

Challenge #4: KindTech

October 29

Technology and social media can often lend itself towards the lack of empathy. It often reduces communication to a string of texts, memes, and gifs, which favor narcissism and outrage. But research shows it can be used to increase human empathy. The trick is to use it to enhance, rather than replace, offline interactions.

Today, be intentional about how you use your time online. Instead of seeking approval or shaming others, find someone you haven’t interacted with in a while and send them a message, or find someone who is struggling and voice your support.

Write a quick thank you note to the staff at Student Health, who have been tirelessly working to support students, faculty, and staff through the pandemic.
(Link coming soon!)
Challenge #5:
Be a Culture Builder
October 30
Use the power of social norms for good by reinforcing or challenging others’ behavior. If you see someone acting kindly or empathetically, recognize and reward that. If you see someone acting cruelly or indifferently, challenge them.
Remember, we all work towards building a positive culture for all students at ECU.

What act of kindness would you like to share? It can be kindness from you, or what someone has done for you. Or have you witnessed an act of kindness? Share on social media using #ECUKindnessChallenge.

Need some ideas? Here are some socially distant service project ideas.