by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM Ireland 02.11.2022
When I think of Behaviour Change I think of all the brain-washing techniques that have gone on over the years. We have all heard of Re-education camps for the Uyghur Muslim minority group in China. I can think of indigenous children being separated from their families in Australia and in Canada in the past so that they could be ‘taught’ to be white. It makes my skin creep.
But recently I heard a story that has begun to change my mind. One of the Sisters was sharing at coffee about working with young couples who were in marital difficulties. In the culture where she was working, the custom was that the mother would feed her husband first. Then she would feed the children. Lastly, and only when she had all the chores done, she would eat herself. At the Health Centre where she worked, they had a different philosophy. They asked the couple to try a different system. They asked them to feed the children first and then sit down together to eat. Just that. They were not into therapy as in the Western world, but just a small change to help the husband and wife see each other as equal human beings, both concerned with the education and upbringing of their children.
The change was remarkable. Not alone did marriages improve, but the level of domestic violence in the society as a whole was drastically reduced.
Now, I think to myself, what small change can I make in my life patterns to produce good results like that? Recently I was reading a blog by one of our young Sisters. She was recommending acts of kindness. When you do a small act of kindness, it changes you on the inside to becoming a kinder person. It also has a ripple effect. When you notice a small act of kindness you want to reach out and do one yourself.
I remember being in Chapel one day and a Sister who was confined to a wheelchair noticed the person in front of her was cold. She inched forward until she was near enough to reach her and draped a shawl around her shoulders. That is kindness. Up to the end of her life she was thinking of others and how she could help.
So that is my challenge today – be kind, notice others’ needs, and maybe God will be kind to me and help me be a better person.