A Simple Gesture of Kindness…

It always bothers me when people do something kind and then brag about it. I think it sullies the pureness of the gesture when you go around telling people what a nice person you are. That being said…I’m going to tell you about something kind I did.

A few days ago the doorbell rang and when I looked out the window, I could see it was two young men in company uniforms. I thought about not answering, but decided to hear what they had to say.

When I opened the door, one of them said, “we heard this is the house that’s giving out hot chocolate to very cold people!” and laughed. I laughed too, and then asked him what they wanted.

Turns out they were selling cable packages, which I did not need. After a few minutes of back and forth, they turned to go. But something made me say ‘do you guys really want hot chocolate?’ to which they both replied an enthusiastic ‘yes!’

I told them to wait outside (covid) and I would be back in a few minutes. I made them hot chocolate and also gave them each a bag of cookies.

When I went back outside to give it to them they were so appreciative it surprised me a bit. They thanked me profusely, but it was more the tone they used than the words. Their gratitude was so genuine I could feel it in my bones.

Now, I hadn’t really done anything that extraordinary. The hot chocolate was easy to make, and the cookies leftover from Christmas had been sitting in my freezer taunting me on a daily basis. I was happy to get those little devils out of my house. So, it was a very simple act of kindness without a lot of effort.

But their reaction was so much bigger than the gesture.

As I thought about it, I realized these young men were brown-skinned. I wondered what these last four years had been like for them. What had they felt as white supremacists were marching in our streets?  Had they been shown such little kindness from strangers these past years that such a simple gesture could elicit such an impassioned response?

We are all just coming out of the defensive crouch position we’ve been in during this last administration, and some of us have suffered way more than others. I think it’s not only important to acknowledge this, but to go the extra mile to let our fellow citizens know that hate didn’t win.

While that wasn’t my intent in the gesture, it made me aware of how important it is to bring kindness back into the equation. I hope that as we try to heal and unify, those of us who weren’t in fear for our lives on a daily basis go the extra mile to reach out our hands to those who have been.

There’s something else that’s important to note; doing this for them made me very happy. There is a heart connection in acts of kindness that uplifts both the giver and recipient. All three of us benefited from that encounter.

So when you despair over the wreckage of these past years, remember that there are things we can do to expedite healing, like letting someone cut in line or smiling at a stranger. It’s those small acts of kindness that will be the foundation as we knit the fabric of our country back together.

What I Don’t Want to See…

What I don’t want to see in the coming months are interviews and Op-Eds with or about people who supported this man.

After the 2016 election, we were inundated with all kinds of articles dissecting what exactly it is that made his supporters vote for him.

I’m not interested in what their reasons were for attempted treason on our capitol.

We have spent way too long trying to figure out and understand the mind of the trump supporter. It’s time to stop.

Anyone who has lived with someone who is addicted to alcohol or drugs knows that eventually the whole house revolves around the addict and their insane and irrational actions. And everyone in the house gets more and more dysfunctional because of it. Focusing on the one who’s causing the problem doesn’t help anyone.

I propose we don’t spend one more minute trying to figure out ‘the mind of the trump supporter.’ I propose the rest of us go about building the kind of country the majority of us have been dreaming of but have never before achieved. I propose we lead with love, equality and inclusion. I propose we lobby for equal education and economic reform and affordable healthcare for all.

I propose we showcase what we are capable of when we come together in unity with a common, equitable goal in mind. I propose we begin to take our role as fellow citizens seriously by looking out for each other and standing together for causes that may not help us directly but will make life better for our fellow citizens.

We have focused on the illness that made this country sick long enough. Let’s focus on what will make this nation healthy.

To be clear, ignoring them does not mean ignoring the crimes. Taking responsibility for one’s own choices is a necessary step in atonement.

As we begin this new chapter his supporters will still be here, and anyone who has tried to talk to any of them knows it’s impossible to change their minds. You can’t argue facts with someone invested in debunked conspiracies. Let’s not waste any more of our energy trying to convince them that they’re wrong. Nothing anyone says to them will make a difference. Those kinds of shifts in thinking have to come from within the person themselves.

I’m not saying to write them all off as a lost cause, because many people I love are his supporters. They have as much of a right to live and breathe as the rest of us.  But what I don’t want to do is give them center stage anymore. The cost is too high.

Let’s those of us who want to build a better country take center stage now. Let’s focus our interviews and news coverage on the people who are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to restoring and reimagining our democracy.

In twelve step programs they say ‘it’s a program of attraction, not promotion.’ I think that’s a motto we should all adopt as we rebuild our country. We can hope that those who have wandered into that dark conspiratorial jungle will see the good that’s happening and their better angels will finally wake them up.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘hate can’t drive out hate; only love can do that.’

Let’s focus on the like-minded people who are choosing to let love lead the way. Maybe the light we give off will shine as a way out for those lost in the darkness of hate.