Challenge 5 — Be A Culture Builder

People are more likely to exhibit cruelty and indifference when others around us do—and more likely to flex our kindness and empathy when others do, too.  When we encourage callousness or kindness, we lend them social momentum.

The late novelist Amos Oz described combatting hatred as akin to fire-fighting:

“Bring a bucket of water and throw it on the fire, and if you don’t have a bucket, bring a glass, and if you don’t have a glass, use a teaspoon, everyone has a teaspoon. And yes, I know a teaspoon is little and the fire is huge but there are millions of us and each one of us has a teaspoon.”

Today, use the power of social norms for good, by reinforcing or challenging others’ behavior.  If you see someone acting kindly or empathically, recognize and reward that.  If you see someone acting cruelly or indifferently, challenge them.

Reflect on how this goes.  Does it feel uncomfortable and intrusive to voice a norm to others, or does it come naturally?  Do you think your actions made a difference?