“There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world.” —Mary Anne Radmacher
“There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world.” —Mary Anne Radmacher
130. Poem Written in 1991
When the Soviet Union Was Disintegrating
by Ursula K. Le Guin
The reason why I’m learning Spanish
Una palabra, un aliento.
So now I’ll turn right round
Seventy years for nothing.
And the dream that came before the betrayal,
Once I sang freedom, freedom,
–Ursula K. Le Guin
“If we are to survive the most divisive presidency in generations, it’s up to us to climb down our family trees and better understand how we got here. It’s up to us to ask fellow countrymen “where are you from?” with a lot less fear and a lot more wonder.” – Bill Weir, States of Change
We need to understand what drives us, our opinions, our ways of being and thinking in the world. Why do we denigrate people with views different from our own? Where is the wonder? Where is the respect? Where is the humanity?
I was reading the transcript from CNN’s Bill Weir’s program called, States of Change, Homecoming. His show, one I haven’t watched all the way through to fully disclose, is an exploration of his roots. They are interesting to be sure, but that’s not what grabbed me. What grabbed me was the thought that we have opinions, some virulent, strong, unchanged despite our best efforts to be open. Why is that? Where do they come from? Shouldn’t we be interested in that?
It’s easy to pronounce our opinions, to put down other opinions, to think we know best and act as if we do by spouting and re-posting article after article or meme after meme putting other’s opinions, lives, views, down. Way down. That’s low if you think about it. Our opinions are made. Made from our experiences and our feelings about those experiences. We forget this. We forget to put that big old magnifying glass we so easily point at others back at ourselves. We are, none of us, without flaws. Our views, even though we might passionately hold them, are not rule of law, are not even always a greater truth. They are just our truth, our views. We forget that.
What I’m saying is, we should be looking at our own views, at ourselves, to really examine why we feel as we do, and then, shockingly, be open to others who might feel differently. They’ve had different experiences, different influences, leading to different views. It doesn’t make them, or ourselves, idiots. Just makes us humans with different opinions. I can believe something to be true that you do not believe it true, and vice versa, you can believe something I don’t believe, that’s OK. Different opinions lead to varying solutions. Varying solutions solve our problems.
I was also watching coverage of the Harvey rescue efforts. Two rescued sisters were interviewed. During that interview, they said they thought it was beautiful that in these divisive times, when people are standing firmly on either side of an invisible line, both racially and politically, that all is forgotten and the community comes together, no color lines, no political lines, to help. It is beautiful. What’s sad is that we need some disaster to remind us that we’re all human, that we should and do love each other. No qualifiers.
I don’t know what all this means. I feel I need to shout out into the void occasionally to say, remember… remember to love. Remember to be kind. Remember we’re, most of us, just doing the best we can to live our lives. Remember we’re different, we’ve had different experiences. Remember that’s OK. Forget fear. Remember to have wonder. Remember to be fair. Remember to be gracious. Remember to be gentle with the feelings of others. Remember. If we can, if we do, everything changes. Love prevails, even in small moments, or big ones, like what’s happening in Houston.
We need to remember.
We see what we want to see. That’s part of the problem.
I was perusing Facebook, which I must say prompts many posts on this blog, and I saw a theme. Negativity. Plain and simple.
There were posts about “those” people. Of one sort of another. You know them, the idiots, the ridiculous, the terrible, the stupid, the crazy, the deluded, the poor things… them. They seem to be everywhere, “these” people. They must be. Everyone is talking about them.
Then it hit me.
We are a beautiful lot, humanity. A tapestry like no other. Preferences, likes and dislikes, and ways of being in the world that differ from each other. We are sad or happy, diet coke or Pepsi, Chevy or Ford, Republican or Democrat, dressing on the side or on the salad, rural or city, cream or taking it black, gay or straight, married or single, serious or silly, tomAto or tomato, and on and on and on. We love our families the best way we know how, we want the best for our kids or grandkids, we want to earn a decent living, take vacations, laugh a lot, and we want the right to live peacefully, with joy. Each and every one of us.
But it’s not that simple. Because what I noticed today, as I was perusing, was that people see what they want to see. They notice what they want to notice. I bet they don’t even know they’re doing it. We seize on information, posts, articles, videos, that speak to us. Things that in some way support our world view. There’s probably a theme to how we post, what we post, etc., only we don’t even know it.
We need to pay attention. To ourselves. Instead of looking out at what that idiot said or didn’t say, which by the way, in and of itself, that language on its own, is wrong. I would hope no one would put me in a class of “those idiots”, just because I happen to align myself with a certain ideology. But they do. Friends have posted many things about liberals being idiots or crazy or wrong or disturbed or… it goes on. I’m shocked by it, every time. Just as I’m sure some of my more conservative friends feel shocked or hurt when a liberal friend of theirs posts something about those idiotic conservatives. Let’s be honest… none of us are idiotic. We just don’t agree with each other. That doesn’t make me an idiot, it just makes a person with a different opinion.
But I digress. This doesn’t just apply to politics. I noticed it applies to many things… the videos people choose to post, the things they choose to put out into the world under their own names…. it’s interesting. Are you a person who posts things that are generally positive, generally informative, upbeat, things that speak to beauty and light and love. I’ve seen those people, and honestly, I hope I’m one of them. Or are you someone who sees the dark and the crazy and the wrong in everything and then feels the need to put it out there? And if so, why? So others like you can agree how bad everything is, or so that you can enlighten those of us who may be Pollyannas who try to look for the good? I’m not being rhetorical. I really want to know.
There are people who feel the need to fight everything, against life and what they see as wrongdoing. I get trying to fight for what you think is right. I get speaking your mind and your truth. What I don’t get is a person coming across some debasing or derogatory or hurtful thing and re-posting it. What’s the purpose of spreading that kind of negativity? If you have strong opinions, if you feel things are wrong in the world and need fixing, find what you think are some solutions, speak to issues from the place of problem-solving, not finger-pointing. Re-posting terrible things, some not even based on truth, just for the sake of talking bad about someone or something, is wrong. You aren’t shining a light on them, you’re shining a terrible light on yourself.
We need to look at ourselves. Decide if we want to be people who create solutions, who seek a more beautiful world for all of us, or are we people who debase, make fun of, and act from fear. Who do we want to be? How do we want to live? What do we want to be putting out there into the world? What do we want to be teaching our kids about how to be in the world? Hurtful to others, or uplifting to others. It’s up to us.
Look in a mirror. Look at your personal news feeds. Look at everything you’ve posted in the last year and judge for yourself. What kind of person are you? Are you happy with that? If not. Change. Let’s lift people up. Let’s inspire with kindness and goodness and love. Let’s try to speak from joy. From positivity. From a place of understanding, humility, and love.
I know there are things wrong in the world. I know there are things that need to be changed. One of those things is people calling other people idiots or other derogatory names. One of those things is people being hurtful just, it seems, to be hurtful. Let’s start being, and communicating, like intelligent humans. After all, we are. Sometimes I think we just forget ourselves. Get swept up. Let’s be better. Let’s look with better eyes and hearts at a world that is a beautiful, wondrous place. Let’s talk about that.
Be kind in big ways and small even when it seems a tad difficult. Be present. Listen more, talk less. Close my eyes, turn my face to the sun or the wind or both at the same time and breathe deeply. Spend time on or near the water. Go on long walks with the pups. Drink life in. Be silly and dorky and unafraid to make a fool of myself. We are bombarded with information every day so choose wisely. Life is a matter of perception so remember I can see things in a negative or positive light. Act to change things in ways I feel I can. Meet the world with love and good intentions in my heart instead of fear and anger. Smile at people I know and don’t know. Bridge gaps. Notice a glint of sun. Appreciate the natural world. Think about what it might be like for others. Cuddle the pups often. Laugh and play with the grandkids. Write letters. Tell people I love them. Be honest even when it’s uncomfortable. Share. Recognize joy. Believe in hope. Dance. Cry. Be curious. Give lots of hugs. Accept compliments. Hold my honey’s hand every chance I can.
Kindness. Hope. Love. Joy.
We were out and about again today, running more errands, getting ready for some upcoming Christmas festivities. Since we were going out we thought today would be a good day for the candy cane caper. Sounds more adventurous or slightly naughty than it was, but it ended up being pretty nice. We’d purchased a box of big sized candy canes a while back in preparation and today we took them around and passed them out to people, saying Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, giving people a smile as we did. Librarians, people sitting at a cafe, the ladies who work at the coffee roasters we go to, a couple of policemen, and a girl sitting outside waiting for a ride were all recipients. My honey is really good at this. Her smile can light up a room. Every single person who got a candy cane smiled back at us. We gave a few of the people two candy canes telling them one was for them and one was for them to hand out to someone else. A sweet bit of shared kindness.