Leader comment: Toast 2017 with a cup o’ kindness

New Year is one of the few occasions when reticent Scots acknowledge strangers.
New Year is one of the few occasions when reticent Scots acknowledge strangers.
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Our national tourism organisation has a tough job at the best of times, persuading visitors to the UK to venture north to Scotland instead of just heading to London to tick the ‘UK’ box.

But VisitScotland has gone the extra mile with its backing of a 21-day mission next month to promote deliberate acts of kindness in Scotland.

The initiative is designed to “grow the Scottish spirit” - which we would all aspire to, if the Scottish spirit was not so inclined to reserved behaviour. Or put another way: Presbyterian.

Who wouldn’t want to be considered kind, and to be treated with kindness in return? For many of us, however, reticence is natural, or at least, engrained. It apparently takes 21 days to change a habit, but we Scots are likely to put that statistic to the test on this front.

That said, some of the ten examples of deliberate acts of kindness we are being encouraged to perform do not require conversions on the Road to Damascus. Greeting a neighbour, saying thank you more often, and holding a door open for someone don’t even cost us time, never mind money. We may find it harder to overcome instinct and befriend a lonely person, or compliment a stranger, but gestures such as this make us all feel better. Or pay for the coffee or the bus fare of the person behind us in the queue. Okay … we might not be ready for that one just yet.

The Kinder Scotland challenge runs from 5 January up to Burns’ Night, which along with Hogmanay, is one of the main occasions when we pledge to follow the great man’s prompting to “tak a cup o’ kindness” with our neighbours. But why wait until 5 January? Being kinder is the perfect new year resolution. Give it a try. It won’t hurt a bit.