By Valerie Bounds Calendar Icon 18 July 2023

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding: can the power of kindness save the world?

“So what is this radical idea? That most people, deep down, are pretty decent.” ― Rutger Bregman

Homo Sapiens are social animals, and this argues Rutger Bregman is the reason they survived and thrived where their Neanderthal predecessors died out. So connection, empathy and community should be the most natural thing in the World for us all.

We crave to feel part of a community, all playing a role in something bigger.

Yet our society seems increasingly polarised, filled with rhetoric, prejudice and violence.

And these are the symptoms, not the cause.It is our belief that these issues stem from a lack of true human connection – the most natural need of all humans. 

In this age of global communication where connection with our fellow humans is at our fingertips constantly, we appear to be seeing a global epidemic of low self-esteem, which is the root of many, if not all, of the issues we face. It is when our relationship with ourselves and those we connect with fail that society starts to fall down. 

Why is this and what is the solution?

If our most fundamental need is to be loved and accepted, why do we all struggle with even accepting ourselves – and why in turn does this drive judgment, anger, crime and hate?

‘If we hope to meet the moral test of our times, then I think we’re going to have to talk more about the “empathy deficit”. The ability to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes, to see the world through somebody else’s eyes . . .’ Barack Obama

According to Professor Paul Gilbert (Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby and Director of the Mental Health Research Unit, Derbyshire Mental Health Trust), connection and contribution to our fellow humans is our most innate need. That when people are kind and compassionate towards others, their own health and well-being benefit too. When we work together cooperatively in the best interests of the greater good, we are all happier. 

Without this, no matter our wealth or status, we do not feel valued. Many of us are in denial about this; we strive for the false Gods of money and power – and we use judgment of others as a defence against our own feelings.

Empathy is a hot topic. Over 1,500 books on Amazon have Empathy or a related word in their title – and the thinking is fuelling a change in how we tackle the fundamental issues we face…

“Empathy on its own is not enough, it needs to lead to compassionate action.” – Peter Bazalgette

How can empathy and kindness be deployed to tackle the epidemic level of low self esteem, to rebuild confidence in ourselves, connection with others and mend?

We are so proud to be working with a fantastic organisation, Calico Group, one of the North West’s leading providers of housing and social care. They are uniquely able to deliver support at every stage of life, working with some of the most challenged people, often facing multiple issues spanning addiction, criminal justice and abuse.

Calico’s people are incredible, ultimately genuine and bringing their own lived experience to devise approaches to help people. They are the embodiment of how empathy, kindness and giving back benefits society, bringing true purpose and from this self-esteem that we all as humans need to make our lives meaningful.

Truly one of the most authentically purposeful organisations we have ever collaborated with, we are looking at how they can take their wonderful work and share it for the benefit of wider society. And how we do this in the right way which their people feel is appropriate and authentic. They have witnessed the transformational power  an empathy model holds and how it can best be deployed to tackle the root causes, not just the symptoms, of society’s biggest issues.

Calico believe that empathy for ourselves and others lies at the core of solving so many of society’s issues through building self esteem and social connection. Tackling this is the root of the tree; and how we should really be thinking to tackle the symptomatic issues society faces stemming from this universal low self esteem.

This in turn has so many community and economic considerations. We have it the wrong way around currently, and we need to change this. And this cuts through every facet of our society – it is a macro level philosophy we all need to take on not matter who we are, where we live or work. As brands, as organisations, as humans we all need to take this challenge on together… but together is when we are at our best.


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