There have been many marches held in Bakersfield over the years, ranging from issues such as women’s rights to immigration. On Thursday, hundreds marched for a different reason — to spread kindness.

Dignity Health Mercy and Memorial Hospitals held its first-ever March for Humankindness on Thursday at Cal State Bakersfield. The event included several speakers, a march looping around the campus as well as a rally prior to the kick-off of the first basketball game of the season. The name of the march goes hand-in-hand with Dignity Health’s slogan: Hello humankindness.

“Bakersfield is a diverse community. There are people from all parts of the world, many different cultures,” said Dr. Matab Singh, a physician at Dignity Health. “At the end of the day, we are all human beings. We have to live together. We have to be kind with each other.”

Singh said he wanted to find a way to bring the community together and celebrate diversity with kindness and tolerance. He helped come up with the idea of the march. Singh said he got the idea from just observing how hospital employees interact with patients.

“When a patient comes to the hospital, they’re in pain,” he said. “Beyond treating them, they also need compassion, positivity and human kindness. It helps to relieve the stress levels. Trust comes when you are kind with each other.”

CSUB student Maria Cuevas came out to Thursday’s event to show her support.

“I want to help make the world a better place,” she said. “I think (the march) will help people know that there are things like this where we can simply come out and enjoy each other’s company and just be a part of it.”

Raji Brar, co-founder of the Bakersfield Sikh Women’s Association, participated in the march along with her children.

“I think it is really neat that Dignity Health is doing an event that celebrates our differences,” she said. “Nobody does that, so it’s really neat the fact that they’re doing this. I think it makes a difference when you see so many people together.”

One of the speakers at the event was Blaine Hodge, who saved a woman he didn’t know from being attacked by a man with a machete in September. Hodge was severely injured by the machete. As of this week, he no longer has to use a cast.

“Human kindness to me is the little things that we as people do to make not only our community but the entire world a better place,” he said. “It’s the subtle yet warm smile you put on your face in spite of what you’re going through to put the people around you at ease. It’s helping when no one’s asked you to because you know it’s going to make things easier.”

Hodge said that if enough people spread kindness, it can make a big difference in a world that is very polarized right now. However, he said it would take everyone working together to make that happen.

“I think we can kill hatred with kindness. It is our biggest and most powerful weapon,” he said. “I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I ask that you stand with me. Together we are strong. Together we can’t fail. I don’t care if you’re a stranger — you’re human, just like I am, and I believe in you all more than you will ever comprehend. Thank you for being you.”

Dignity Health said it plans to make the march an annual event in the future.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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