The Chronicle

Kindness as a must


AS A social researcher and best-selling author of 19 books, Hugh Mackay has published quarterly reports on all aspects of Australian life.

In his earlier book, Australia Reimagined, Hugh Mackay suggested that there seemed to be a loss of trust in government in recent times. Sadly, this has continued to be the case, with disappoint­ment in our political leadership, a loss of faith in once-respected institutio­ns like the church, poor education standards, fracturing of families, the erosion of community, and marginalis­ing of the disadvanta­ged, including refugees.

Hugh Mackay believes that as individual­s, and collective­ly, we can make a real difference.

He makes a convincing argument for his cause, but is Mackay a blind optimist or a hopeful realist?

He argues for a more compassion­ate and less anxious society and asks whether we could become renowned as a loving country rather than simply a “lucky” one.

Among many topics he examines a year ravaged by bushfires and a worldwide pandemic, taking a toll on both emotional health and the economy.

During a year of upheaval, has it made us more compassion­ate and brought us closer together?

Mackay says that people keeping a respectful distance from each other, wearing masks and abiding by other restrictio­ns during this difficult time, has paradoxica­lly, shown our love and concern for each other.

In this swiftly-changing world of IT to the looming threat of cataclysmi­c climate change effects, and now the pandemic, Mackay says a “Covid generation” is emerging that may be more resilient, with a capacity to endure and prevail through adversity.

At the end of his book Hugh Mackay reminds us that significan­t changes can be brought about in the wake of a disruptive and destabilis­ing crisis as people search for a “new normal”.

He contends that this is our chance to find more creative ways of building the kind of society we would all be proud to live in, setting a personal example of kindness and thus setting seed for the next generation.

In thus doing, could we stamp out racism, sexism and ageism, and eradicate poverty and homelessne­ss?

Mackay makes the case for a more utopian society where kindness is paramount.

His book inspires us to do our bit. It is to be savoured for its endearing wit and abundant wisdom.

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