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Hugh Mackay would like us all to start a revolution by making kindness our way of being in the world

In the midst of a CoVid lockdown, I discovered a book that it felt like was speaking directly to me, and in doing so, touching my soul. The author and I shared a desire to see a significant shift in the country we both love, and in the wider world. That shift speaks of rediscovery. Of a way of being that all humans know, and many appear to have forgotten. What is called for, the author proposed is in fact nothing short of a revolution. A Kindness Revolution. I was moved to write to him, expressing my deepest gratitude for what I received in reading his work over the years, my appreciation of the shared meaning I discovered in his words, and my shared hope for a future filled with kindness. In that note I invited him to co-create a conversation here, which I am deeply honoured that he accepted.

Welcome to the conversation with Hugh Mackay. His latest book, The Kindness Revolution, brings together many of his views shared in previous books based on over 6 decades of work, becoming one of Australia’s best known and highly regarded social researchers since the publication of his first book, Australia Reimagined. Hugh’s journey as a researcher began before the popularisation of television, and his career has witnessed 3 significant social revolutions, including the most recent rise of social media influence on social interaction.

As Hugh says in The Kindness Revolution, he’s come to recognise the potential transformative value of kindness, and that in fact what is needed is a more radical, revolutionary brand of kindness. The significance of Hugh’s work is profound, a gift to Australia, and the world, and it was a great joy to explore with him the potential meaning of kindness in contributing to creating a better world.

I hope our conversation brings you joy and provocation, as well as reflection on the potential for you to bring more kindness into your life, and what you might create in the world, and the change you might activate, as you do.

Here’s a review of the key messages from this episode, based on extracts from the dialogue;


  • We are the social change. We drive social trends.
  • These trends are pushing us in a direction which takes us away from our true nature.
  • No revolution ever started at the top, because the people at the top think everything is terrific.
  • Do we need memetic evolution or violent revolution?
  • Change needs to start with us living as though it was the kind of society we want to see.


  • We happen to be members of a social species. We need each other.
  • A sense of belonging is vital to a social species hardwired for collaboration.
  • Our shared humanity is far more important than a focus on our individual personal identity.
  • Be more accepting of difference, because we all share a common humanity, any difference is trivial.


  • One thing that’s driven us in this dangerous direction is economic prosperity.
  • We have had leadership celebrating individual prosperity.
  • We’ve had the wrong kind of leadership & too much prosperity.


  • Make kindness your way of being in the world.
  • Kindness is anything we do for another person which acknowledges them & their needs.
  • Ask yourself – does this act pass the kindness test?
  • As a kindness practice, we need a conscious reflection – was I kind enough today?
  • We’ve all been wounded,  and are walking with tragedies large or small. The universal balm is kindness.
  • When I listen to someone, they receive it as a therapeutic gift.
  • Every act of kindness makes the world a better place.

Find out more about Hugh and his work here:

As well as reading The Kindness Revolution, Hugh has particularly recommended these 2 of his books – What Makes Us Tick & The Good Life.

Hugh also recommends that you check out the work of the Stay Kind Foundation – – in particular look out for their ‘Kindfest’ initiative in July.

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