There’s no shortage of depressing news nowadays. You can’t go online without being bombarded with the latest development of COVID-19, piling death-tolls, and plummeting economy. I’m lucky to be still employed and working from home during this self-quarantine period. However, staying indoors for over a month does eventually take its toll on your motivation. To maintain productivity, I’ve been on a quest for books with a positive message to help pass the time and also lift the spirits. That’s when I came across an early release copy of Humankind, by Brad Aronson.
Humankind: How to Change the World One Small Act at a Time is a collection of short stories about the profound and contagious effect of human kindness. The author himself was inspired to write this book after the generosity of others helped him and his family through difficult times. The stories in this book are heart-warming, empowering, and makes you realize both the power and value of kindness.
Brad Aronson isn’t your ordinary author. He’s a successful self-made entrepreneur with multiple exits to his name. His first company, i-Frontier, was started in his bedroom at the age of 24. What was once a dorm-room startup became the 33rd largest agency in the U.S.A. The seasoned entrepreneur turned investor is now a family man who volunteers his time on nonprofit boards and teaches entrepreneurship at Hopeworks, a local nonprofit dedicated to teaching students in recovering communities programming.
Brad seemed to have it all figured out, having achieved success with career and family. Unfortunately for the Aronsons, tragedy doesn’t discriminate. Mia, Brad’s life partner, was diagnosed with leukemia, and the news upended their lives. Despite efforts to stay positive for his family, the unfathomable weight is too much for anyone individual to endure. During these tumultuous times, friends, family, and neighbors rallied around and gave their support. It was their little acts of kindness that made the most significant difference for the Aronsons.
Humankind is organized into ten chapters—each containing a collection of short stories revolving around a theme. The anecdotes are unique, diverse, and include valuable lessons. One of the stories talks about how a mother’s kindness towards a homeless man inspired her son to start Philadelphia’s first homeless assistance program. Another story shared a couple’s dilemma of giving a close friend $400 to launch his music career when they only have $404 to their name. Had the couple chosen otherwise, Simon & Garfunkel would’ve never released The Sound of Silence.
My favorite is a story about a father and son playing dress-up. The Batman and Spider-man duo teamed up to stop imaginary thieves from stealing their dinner in the kitchen. Upon apprehending the imaginary thieves, the father asked his son what he wanted to do with them. The son grabbed a spatula and started waving frantically in the kitchen. Confused, the father asked the son what sort of capital punishment he’s brewing.
The son replied, “I’m making pancakes for them. If they’re stealing our dinner, they must be hungry.” Father was surprised by the pureness of his little four-year-old son’s explanation.
The book is meant to be digested one story at a time. There’s no required beginning or ending, and you can flip to any page and begin reading. The author wrote the book in an easy-to-read manner without jargon. The uncomplicated writing style makes the book more accessible to a broader audience and can also be read as bedtime stories for the little ones.
Humankind comes out on April 14th, 2020, and 100% of the book sales’ profit will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. It’s well worth reading and supports a great cause. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those working with under-represented communities and those in social-impact. Although written for adults, many of the narratives contain profound moral lessons both children and grown-ups alike will find valuable. Humankind will leave you feeling wholesome and urged to do good, starting with little acts of kindness.