Kill it with kindness: combating competition in our community


John Mauro

I will always place kindness above humility, integrity, and intellect. To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest friend, the strongest, or even the most humble. I find that the thing most telling of your character stems from kindness: how you respect and treat others.

I don’t claim that at our school kindness is in short supply. While nearly all of the people I interact with are warm enough to say hello and ask about my day, I fear that we are beginning to lose our sense of community as the ever-present rat race for grades and achievement kicks off yet again.

I have seen this take an increasing effect in clubs. Rather than encouraging one another, people are quarreling over leadership roles. It’s two months into the school year, and I already hear snide remarks being exchanged within clubs. People who initially joined clubs to meet people with common interests are now preemptively usurping each other for a president position that club leaders have not even begun to think about. In my opinion, moral standards should always be more important than whatever outside challenge or goal lurks in the distance.

Maybe the stress of junior year is already getting to people. I’ve already experienced a week where I went to sleep at 2 a.m. on multiple nights because of assessments. I understand the overwhelming anxiety underlying tests and papers. Will this next test be okay? Will this one bad physics quiz stop me from getting an A for the semester? Am I doing enough extracurriculars? Will I even get into college? It’s perfectly acceptable to fear the unknown. That’s natural, of course; as humans, we like being in control.

Despite these feelings of concern and anxiety, I think that there’s one thing to always keep in mind. No matter what, you should not release your pent up emotions on someone else. It’s neither fair nor productive. An uncalled for outburst is a loss for both sides. I have much experience being on the receiving end of outbursts and rants. I personally don’t mind listening about your terrible day, but for others, talking about stress only contributes to the school’s stress culture.

I think that Horace Mann’s core values fully encompass the idea I’m trying to advocate for –“A Secure and Healthful Environment” and “Mutual Respect” in particular. Throughout my high school experience, I’ve come to realize how someone’s words can plunge you into despair.. Thus, I present one of the quotes I live my life based on:“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

I personally don’t care if people remember what precise thing I said; I just want them to remember that I made them feel appreciated and I made them happy. For me, there is no greater feeling than making someone smile. I’ll try anything in order to make you happy; I’ll crack every joke and pull out every stop to make your stomach burst at its seams.

There is more to high school than the academics. What even is the point of it? To learn how to find the area of a circumcircle? To write a blog in a foreign language? Well, yes, but I think there’s more. School isn’t just teaching us to be scholars; it’s also teaching us to be good people. The world as it is seems to desperately need more empathetic humans. In 20 to 30 years, our generation will be leading the world.

When I read the news, I hope to see people enacting change for the better, not furthering the world’s deterioration. Even seeing selfless acts in school, like the climate change activists who routinely protest in efforts to save our planet or the people who always take time out of their day to say hello to me in the hallway, raises my spirits.

As a nation, I feel like we are becoming more selfish and concerned only about ourselves. Compassion for others is a necessity.

While I don’t believe for a moment that I am without flaws, I still try my best to remain as kind and thoughtful as can be, and it’s my hope that the school community will do the same. Think before you speak and act, and truly do your best to make your peers smile and form genuine connections.