Good Citizenship, May 2024

Every month, we dive deep into a topic that resonates with our mission. 

This month's question: 

When have you felt different? How did others make you feel like you belong?

Take a moment to reflect on May's question yourself. Use it as a starting point for conversations or personal reflections on kindness and empathy. 

But if you find this challenging, or if you're feeling stuck, remember that you're not alone. Every month, we invite some of our changemakers to offer powerful insights and reflections. Their experiences can help inspire us all to bring the Golden Rule into everyday life, making our world a more compassionate and understanding place.


Hear directly from Anthony Bennett, our CEO, as he shares his personal insights in response to this month's thought-provoking question.

 Hi, my name is Anthony Bennett and I'm CEO of Reboot the Future. The question that I've been asked to answer is, when have you felt different and how did others make you feel like you belong? Well, the truth is, and it sort of feels weird even saying it out loud, is that I've always felt different. I always felt like the odd one out.

That the thing that the other kids seemed to be able to do so naturally felt like something I had to learn, not something I knew intuitively. I always felt like the outsider, the odd one out. The thing is, the older I got, the more I realised that this is a kind of superpower. I started to realise that, say you're in a meeting at work, and you realise that everyone else is speaking, and you feel that the thing that you want to say isn't valid, or doesn't seem to be the kind of thing that everyone else thinks is important.

Well, that feeling is the one you have to act on. You have to be prepared to say the thing that nobody else will want to say, because chances are they're saying it

Most people nod along, go along with the consensus, go with the flow, that kind of thing. Now Andre Malraux said that history is made by people who say no. What I take that to mean is that when people don't challenge the consensus, and I'm not even talking about political activism or standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square, I'm talking about being in a really dull work meeting and you sit in this meeting and you feel that everyone is talking a different language.

That's it. That's when you have to speak. You know, nature abhors a monoculture. Now what that means is, I think biologists will tell you, is that when you have all the same kinds of thing, all the same kinds of species, or genotype or phenotype, then the group, the herd, the community, the tribe, whatever, becomes prone to disease, to infection, and to sterility.

A certain kind of disease comes along, and that's it. You need diversity. You need the outliers, the mutants. Just like Professor X's school for gifted teenagers, you know? This is how evolution occurs. The more differences there are, the more resilient and adaptive we will be. It's the same with ideas. When you get a groupthink, when people all default to the same sort of beige, pablum, pablum, pablum, pablum.

Sensibility, that's when things start to corrode, to corrupt. That's why we need to resist homogeneity of people or ideas. So for myself, I'm always interested in the quiet one, the weird kid, the ones who had their nose stuck in a book, the ones on the margin. In any group you find yourself in, ask yourself, who isn't here?

Who isn't represented? And what would the conversation be like, how it'd be different if that person was here? Those are the people who are the most interesting, the people who walk to a different drum. Not all their ideas are going to be good, but that's okay. It's the willingness to try new stuff, to have confidence in your own voice, to be authentically yourself, to relax in your skin and trust that your view of the world is at least as good as anyone else's, you know.

Oscar Wilde said, be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. I mean, things didn't really work out for him, but here we are still talking about him 150 years later. The other way to express this is what the Greeks had carved in stone at the shrine of the Delphic Oracle. Know thyself. So, everything flows from that.

Don't worry about belonging and fitting in so much. You'll work it out in time. Worry about the quiet guy in the corner at the party. Worry about someone else. Don't obsess over you. It's gonna work out. Like the Golden Rule says, look out for somebody else who's on the margins. Figure out what they are up to.

Chances are, they're nervous too. Strike up a conversation. Take a chance. Ask them what they're up to. Everyone has got a story. A good one. Find out what it is. And chances are, somebody will do the same for you.

Why not reflect on the question yourself? 

It's your turn to explore the themes of kindness and empathy in your life.

Remember, every voice matters in shaping a more compassionate world.