The Planetwalker’s Guide to Goodwill
In Human Kindness, John Francis PhD’91 shares encouraging tales from around the world.
After 22 years spent walking across the Americas and a 17-year vow of silence, John Francis PhD’91 of Cape May, New Jersey, knows a thing or two about people’s capacity for kindness. In Human Kindness: True Stories of Compassion and Generosity That Changed the World, Francis — also known as the Planetwalker — explores our tendency toward decency through historical examples and personal anecdotes from a lifetime journey of environmental advocacy.
Francis commenced his trek across America after witnessing an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. He denounced motor vehicles, and his silence soon followed. The kindness he was shown throughout his travels and the achievements that goodwill made possible — including completing three degrees without uttering a word — taught him more about caring for the environment than did the land upon which he walked.
“We are the environment, and how we treat each other is how we’re going to treat the environment,” Francis said in a TED Talk in 2018.
He opens the book with this personal journey through kindness before offering readers global examples of the phenomenon dating back to the earliest humans. He examines ancient expressions of respect and goodwill, lists time-tested proverbs and truisms, and shares stories of individuals whose selfless actions serve as inspiration for others. Illustrated with lively artwork and narrated in Francis’s personable prose, Human Kindness is an engaging and uplifting read for all ages.
“[Kindness and generosity are] concepts that can be a bit challenging for children to understand and reflect on. This book shows that kindness is a range of ideas that can be acted upon at any age,” one reviewer, an educator, writes.
Read more about Francis’s strong and silent steps toward saving the earth in our Fall 2008 issue.
Published in the Spring 2023 issue