is it kind? is it right? is it necessary?
There’s a sign that decorates the halls of Conley Elementary. They are white sheets of copier paper with a picture and words that are colored in and taped to the walls of the hallway by the students. Simple they are. and profound.
This has become the school motto of how the students are to treat their friends, classmates, and school staff. Before speaking or acting, they are encouraged to ask themselves these 3 questions first.
Is what I’m about to do kind?
I love that this is the first question on the paper. The internal evaluation of one’s words or actions is devastatingly hard when you’re in 3-5th grade. Sometimes, I think it’s even harder for adults. While I do think we often know if our thoughts or actions pass or fail this part of the process, we often choose to ignore instincts and go with impulses instead. Rarely does this fix a situation or a relationship. Let us be kind.
Is what I’m about to do right?
This one is a little harder. Justification is key here. We are so inclined to justify our thoughts and actions because, of course, we are always in the right, right? Probably not. It is a much harder and humbling process to admit that the other person might be right, or more deserving, or a number of other things. Let us do what is right.
Is what I’m about to do necessary?
This might be my favorite one. Even when the task passes the first 2 hurdles … we still need to ask ourselves if this action is something that I really need to do right now. Or is it something that will be able to withstand a few moments when it might be more appropriate. While I think this might really be written for the teacher’s sake when she has 32 kids trying to show her the really cool art project that they just made out of hot pink macaroni noodles and paste … I do think that it has implications for adults as well. Often, I find myself interjecting myself into a conversation or situation. While this could be, depending on the situation, a kind and ‘right’ act …. it might not be necessary. Sometimes it’s ok for us to sit and listen to others rather than bombarding them with our opinions and thoughts. Let us be considerate.
I find simple joy in these posters as I walk past them every day at Conley. Let us learn from our children. Be kind. Be righteous. Be considerate.