I first read this book 15 years ago and offered it as a kindness class, both an online and an in-person version. I was able to track down Mike McIntyre by doing a little Internet sleuthing back then. As means of a reflection exercise, here is what he wrote to me in 1999 when he heard I was using his book to promote kindness.
I’m glad you have found something of worth in “Kindness” to use in your program. It sounds like you run a unique and creative school. I’ve heard from teachers (from junior high thru college) who have taught “Kindness” in their classrooms. I don’t know why, but it always surprises me. When I hear of youngsters reading the book, my one big regret about the journey is the whole hitchhiking thing. I don’t want to be the reason some kid hops into a car with a child molester (or worse). Even though everything in the book is true, the journey probably works better as a symbol–that is, if there is any meaning to be gleaned from the experience other than the obvious. But you are a teacher and already know this, of course.
I was glad to make that trip, though I would not do it again. In retrospect, sheer insanity. I’m pleased that people are willing to look past the darkness and cynicism to find something inspirational. When I left on that journey, I fully expected to have a negative experience. That it ended as the most rewarding experience of my life was truly a shock. My intent was never to write about kindness. That’s just what greeted me along the way, and I just wrote down what happened. If my book prompts people to commit acts of random kindness, great, but I feel squeamish about posing as an advocate for kindness (if this doesn’t sound too silly). So, while I support your efforts to use my book in any educational way you see fit, I must decline your invitation to directly participate in your programs.
Thanks for taking the time to write me.
Best, Mike McIntyre
I’m curious how any of you react to this message. Does it in any way change your opinion of him, positively or negatively?