Asking Questions

“A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.” James Baldwin, The First Next Time

“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.” – Albert Camus, The Plague

“There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rages; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equal.” – Herman Melville

How do we navigate the struggles in this world? Where do we gather the strength to battle the demons that inhabit society? Who do we turn to when our hearts are cracked wide open? How do we fix the broken light in the deep darkness of our souls? What gives us the courage to confront evil? Are we all so mangled in the mire that we can’t see beyond our own shores?

What if we bravely walked beyond the smashed glass, opened our hearts, expanded our minds, and looked past our egos? Could we offer dignity where we see indecency? Empathy instead of judgement? Grace in place of neglect? Kindness rather than hatred? Compassion, not cruelty?

Could we live, thrive, love, feed, embrace, and love with rapture? Or is the world too harsh, too cruel, too mean, too small, too evil? Do we accept defeat? Or do we scream into the wind, summoning strength for another battle?

What if today we decided to support dignity, breathe empathy, enfold grace, grasp kindness, and devour compassion? How would the world around us react to such behavior? Would it cower? Would it laugh? Or perhaps, it would blink in surprise? And what if the world then began to mimic our words, our acts, our hearts?

Dignity is an elevation of character, a worthiness in the world. We all deserve dignity, yet with every hateful epithet, dignity is lessened. Humans should be able to walk through life with pride.

Dignity is our inalienable right.

Empathy is seeing the troubles of others. It is identifying with their misery and wanting to alleviate it.

Empathy is our hearts bursting from our chests, exposing our salty tears.

Grace is the possession of mercy, goodwill, and honor. It is how we conduct our lives, our place at the table, inviting others to join us.

Grace is our truth.

Kindness is our behavior. It is a smile, a gesture, an open door, a generous tip. Our hearts reach out to grab others with love. It is courage wrapped in a whisper of silk.

Kindness is omnipotent.

Compassion is deep sympathy. It is our tenderness. It is our hearts, full and accepting. We feel others hurt. We acknowledge their pain. We sit with their sorrow. We respect their troubles.

Compassion is our humanness. 

So what if today we opened our doors to difficult truths? Listened to others? Held each other in solidarity? Tasted bitterness, yet still accepted the food? And lit a candle to wipe away the gloom?

What if for just today we saw dignity in each other, empathized with the downtrodden, walked in grace, spread kindness, and felt compassion for all suffering?

Could we change the world?

“Without dignity, identity is erased.” ― Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken

“Nothing is more important than empathy for another human being’s suffering. Nothing. Not a career, not wealth, not intelligence, certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity.” – Audrey Hepburn

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”  -Og Mandino

“There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate.” – Robert Frost

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“We Are How We Treat Each Other and Nothing More”

To be humble, to be kind.
It is the giving of the peace in your mind.
To a stranger, To a friend
To give in such a way that has no end.
We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done.
We are peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and Nothing More.

— “Nothing More” ~ The Alternate Routes

What has happened to civility? To kindness? To respect? If you read and watch the news, you would think we have lost our collective minds. We are bombarded daily with hate speech and deplorable behavior. Where is the kindness? Where is the love? Where is the sanity?

How do we combat all of this? How do we get through the day? Do we scream back or remain complacently silent? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m exhausted. My heart is tired, but not yet broken. You see, I still have hope. In this turbulent world we each possess the ability to spread kindness, even in the midst of chaos. How do we hold onto this desire for a more benevolent existence in the face of such bitterness and horror?

I believe it is still possible to spread simple kindness every day. Smile at a stranger. Send a love letter to a friend. Bake something sweet for someone struggling. Hate cannot spread where love is present. Fight for justice. Speak your mind with logic, facts, and decorum. Believe in peace. Be a fierce warrior fighting the honorable fight because goodness is always on the right side of history.

I challenge you to spread light today, because as the song says, “To be bold, to be brave. It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved.” Author Elizabeth Berg wrote on her Facebook page about what makes a coward and what makes a person with courage. She wrote, “Probably people with courage don’t bow out of life or hide from it. Probably they find some resolve within and live in the best way they know how wherever they are, and find like-minded individuals with whom they can ride out the storms. Probably they endeavor to pay attention to their highest and best selves and minimize the coyote in them that suggests darker ways.” Don’t feed the evil coyote that lives within. Nurture the one that wants to live in love and light.

“We are how we treat each other and nothing more.”

If you need inspiration, check out the following:

“100 Ways to Be Kinder” at http://www.virtuesforlife.com/100-ways-to-be-kinder/ 

“5 Incredibly Easy Ways to Spread Kindness, Every Day” at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/14/random-acts-of-kindness-give-back_n_6101940.html

http://www.newtownkindness.org

SpreadKindness.org

or just Google “Spreading Kindness.”