National Others Week (NOW) runs from November 5–11, and hopes to encourage every person across Australia, and around the world, to notice the needs of others and show kindness. We speak to the director of NOW, Peter Pilt, about the importance of kindness.
This is the ninth year of National Others Week—where did it all begin, and what was your inspiration?
National Others Week came out of my experiences of both receiving and giving kindness, and seeing the incredible power that it unleashes. The amazing thing about kindness is that it doesn’t have to be huge—like buying someone a car—for it to be effective.
It may be as simple as vacating your seat on a bus for an older person, shouting someone a coffee, it might even be just putting your phone down and really engaging with the person who is talking to you. Kindness is the lost art of being a human in a community of other humans who all need love, connection and value.
It’s clear you aim to show kindness to others, but is there a particular act of kindness to you that stands out in your mind, or that had a significant impact on your life?
I was on a plane flying home from meetings on the Gold Coast (I was living in Sydney at the time). I ordered some snacks and a Coke and went to pay for them only to be told that they only take cash. I clearly looked disappointed—and very hungry—and, as the flight attendant was taking food back off my tray, an older lady asked her how much it would be and then paid for it.
I then spent the rest of the flight talking to her and her husband. And this is the power of kindness—I got on the plane not knowing anyone but got off the plane with two new friends. Kindness connects people.
There’s lots of great stories that have come out of National Others Week, but are there a few that are extra-special or moving for you?
A team of ladies went down the main street of Nowra with 400 red roses and handed them out to other women. They had been doing this for a couple of years, and one year an older man came up and asked if he could have one. He explained to one of the team that the previous year he and his sick wife were out doing some shopping when a lady had come up, as part of National Others Week, and handed her a rose.
At that stage, she was in a wheelchair due to advanced cancer, and he said she’d felt very blessed and loved after being handed the flower. Sadly, she died three days later and he placed the rose on her coffin as she was buried.
As you could imagine, the tears were flowing as he told this story. Then, a passer-by who had been listening took $100 from his wallet and said to the man, “Go and buy a dozen red roses and take them out to your wife’s grave.” Very moving all round.
If you had to pick one thing that every Australian could do right now for one another as an act of kindness, what would it be?
Be kind with their words.
What’s next for NOW?
National Others Week is being launched in nations right around the world. Currently it’s being celebrated in Australia, NZ, UK, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
If you want to get involved in National Others Week, you can find out more at nationalothersweek.com