Courage, Kindness, & Politics
I’ve been quiet here with my writing and social media posts over the past two months after being brutally attacked on Facebook about a post I made in August.
I have been thinking about kindness more than ever these last few months as I have witnessed, and experienced, some of the meanest behavior on and offline due to differences in opinions and ideologies in our political climate.
I have witnessed and experienced family and friends name calling, making condescending, hurtful comments, and outright abandonment of relationships and acquaintances that my community was built upon previously.
What happened to “love your neighbor as yourself”, unconditional love, non-judgement, compassion, empathy, acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity?
These are the words we associate with kindness, yet, as we teach our kids, actions speak louder than words. Love and compassion are not qualities we embody if and when we agree with people, or qualities that we demonstrate until we discover our assumptions about them are not 100% accurate.
Kindness and compassion are a given. They are inherent in who we are and what we stand for. That conditions don’t need to exist in order for us to freely extend them.
I have always been an advocate for proactive kindness and doing my best to live from a place of “Do No Harm” and share that perspective, both through “Kindness Matters” and “The Kindness Solution”.
I started “Kindness Matters” when my now 15-year old son was in first grade. I was befuddled by the whole “anti-bullying” campaign at the time, and wondered if we could flip the script on yet another “war against” narrative and find a way to talk about kindness, and experience both giving and receiving it, from the perspective of uplifting, encouraging, and inspiring others, and at a bare minimum, never ever put people down.
I had never experienced bullying myself, and my hope in creating a dialogue around the profound power of our thoughts, words, and actions on the life of another person, so that no kid, tween, teen, or adult would EVER commit suicide due to unneccessary and destructive bullying behavior that could have been prevented if the bully was more conscious of their short and long-term effects of their behavior, and simultaneously, got their cries for help met.
We know that the bully him/herself is likely suffering, and thus projecting that behavior onto someone else to gain significance and control, which is a futile effort. What the bully really needs is to be seen, heard, and shown compassion and kindness. Whenever we see someone doing unkind behavior, it’s safe to assume they are experiencing a spiritual disconnection from self, and could use some LOVE!
I had been fortunate enough to make it just past my 48-year mark until I experienced bullying, harsh judgement, and isolation as a result of expressing my political beliefs and questioning around the Covid narrative, and my increasing variety of very real concerns around the lockdown, mask wearing, vaccine mandates, and the Covid vaccine specifically.
I don’t like conflict and, quite frankly, didn’t even know what my true opinion was on many issues until the past year or so. I had been one of those people, until now, that was easily swayed by whoever was making their case. I could be with someone, or a group of people, listen attentively to their stance on something, see the validity in it, and nod my head, and go along with it. The next day I could be with another group of people, listen carefully to their opinions and “facts”, and see how their viewpoint made total sense.
The truth is, I didn’t know how I actually felt about a range of topics, and I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) put a line in the sand about anything, other than my passion for kindness and human trafficking.
Up until my 39th birthday, I blindly and naively trusted what I had been taught in school and told by the medical establishment, government, churches, and corporations (most especially food, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and now tech companies), and never questioned if my or my family’s health and well-being were at the center of their decision-making around the creation of their products, services, and legislation. Why wouldn’t they be? These entities would not intentionally, or at least, knowingly do harm to our minds, bodies, and spirits in the name of profits.
When I started to learn that this actually in direct opposition to what I believed to be true, my world began to deconstruct, and I have been on a journey of unlearning for the past 9 years in order to discover what I actually think and believe, what I stand for, and how I want to live my life going forward.
As a social critter as I am, I have remained pretty quiet at dinner parties, work events, and online around the topics of politics, vaccines, and the corruption and greed that permeates our country and world. Most people know better than to go down these roads for fear of loss of friendship and business – I decided to wait until I left behind a 23-year recruiting career and walk away from a 23-year marriage while starting a new coaching business during Covid and building a non-profit to help child survivors of human trafficking before I somehow found the courage to find my voice and use it. Not a fantastic time to have your family and friends fall away.
I swallowed my words and bit my tongue for years when my friends, boss, or people in my social and work network made disparaging comments about certain political candidates or went on rants about people or things I didn’t agree with. I don’t like conflict, and I always seem to back down from a debate when the person I’m debating with appears more certain and confident than I am. Besides, they are entitled to their opinion. I would never not be their friend or not do business with them because of their political views or stance on certain issues.
I’ve finally formed my own opinions based on my own experimentation and experience and have the courage to speak up and use my voice in the hopes of sharing different perspectives, even if they are not popular, even if I will be labeled a conspiracy theorist, or have my parenting decisions called into question.
Kindness, courtesy, and respect are a given. It goes without saying that we should treat others the way we want to be treated, that we should help those in need, and that we should accept and celebrate each other’s differences. Obvi!
I have come to equate kindness with courage, however, because it takes courage to act with compassion and empathy in the face of meanness, abandonment, and having your integrity questioned.
Sometimes being kind is telling the truth, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s not popular. Even if you will be left standing alone.
Kindness is having the courage to live in alignment with who you are and what you believe to be true, and loving, respecting, and honoring others to do the same, especially when their opinions, beliefs, ideologies, are different from your own.
I won’t be bullied or silenced into submission for claiming my health sovereignty, civil liberties, and freedom of speech. It is an act of kindness for me to stand in my truth, and you to stand in yours, while honoring one another. This the greatest expression of love we can share and model for our children