I enjoy Hugh Mackay’s non-fiction books and although I don’t agree with everything he writes, he certainly makes the reader think. Mackay wrote much of The Kindness Revolution based on his observations of people’s responses during the Covid pandemic. It was published in 2021.
Mackay notes the many different ways people showed kindness to others, often complete strangers, during the pandemic and how surprising and refreshing this was. The underlying question throughout the book is, why don’t we act with kindness more often? Showing kindness doesn’t require a lot of effort but reaps many benefits for ourselves as well as others.
Mackay looks at the value of kindness in many different settings: politics, institutions, workplaces, social groups etc. and notes that as a species, although we enjoy competition, we are born to cooperate. He points out that even in a sporting event the competitors have to agree to the rules before they can enjoy the contest.
Mackay looks at how kindness or the lack of it affects us on a personal level. The simplest acts of kindness can be the most profound, like genuinely listening to another person. He includes several stories from others that demonstrate the impact kindness can have.
One surprise in the book, for someone who makes a living out of research, was Mackay’s lack of research regarding the gospel writers. He claims they were evangelists and propagandists, not historians or journalists. However, these writers wrote biographies that are consistent in style with other biographies that are considered factual and written around the same time. One simple way of showing that the gospel authors aren’t evangelists or propagandists is they include embarrassing information, such as a woman being the first witness to the resurrection. (Women weren’t considered reliable witnesses at this time.) The embarrassment test is regularly used by ancient historians.
Nevertheless, a perceptive and thought-provoking read.