Radical Kindness

#TruthBooking: I cannot even fathom how it has felt to live as an American person of color or a person of Jewish faith this weekend, much more in this lifetime. I will never know what it feels like to watch hate-filled people freely marching in the streets of this nation- and to know without question that hate is directed at me. I grieve deeply considering the trauma one must experience as those images and realities wash over and sink into the psyches of the people being targeted with that hatred. If I'm honest, I know there are ways in which I have been complicit in my comfortable bubble and have benefitted from a system that champions the privilege that comes with the pigment of my skin and the place I choose to worship. Something has to change and tonight I know starts with me.

All day I've been reading, scrolling, reading, feeling, reading, grieving, evaluating, and feeling and scrolling and reading some more. The truth is, too much of that is simply not healthy for any of us. Don't hear what I'm not saying. We need to be feet-on-the-ground serious about creating change in these times. And in no way am I suggesting complacency or the turning of a blind eye, because WE HAVE ALL SEEN NOW. And with seeing comes knowing and with knowledge, RESPONSIBILITY. Make no mistake, we must all be engaged for the sake of justice and history here.

I do find there's a scrolling cycle I get caught in, almost like an undertow of images and emotions and thoughts. Many of us are susceptible to this. And it's not actually helping anyone for us to stay stunned and numbed out behind our safe little screens, or for this to become just another horrific news cycle we watch and throw words at until the next one comes along. Tonight I feel wrung out in a way that I remember all too well in the wake of 9/11. Hours watching the coverage, eyes glazed over, heart wrenched, total overwhelm. Afraid, horrified, unsure of what happens next.

Tonight I got some clarity. For those of you struggling like me, perhaps you will allow me to outline a plan for what happens next: I believe we must engage RADICAL KINDNESS in four crucial arenas.

Tomorrow, we will find one other safe human and take whatever minutes we can spare in our time-starved, tyranny-of-the-urgent lives to make a real connection. In a perfect world, this would be face-to-face, where visceral life is exchanged: a hug, a hand held, some eye contact that says, "I see you, I hold this space with you, you're not alone, you matter, I hear you." That's not always possible, so at the very least we will find another safe human to speak with via phone (Gasp! Yes, that device in your hand does still actually make calls rather than just texts), where we can hear tone and love and sighs and breath and we can feel the reaching towards each other over invisible lines in the sky. In these exchanges it will be vital to not attempt to fix or change one another's emotions, rather to acknowledge the feelings, the complexities, the pain. We will do our best to hold space and validate one another, and allow what's there to exist without judgment. This allowing-based connection is a radical kindness. Why will we do this? Because we are better together. We were made to need one another, and when the darkest parts of the human condition have been on full display, it is imperative that we find a path back to one another. We must remind each other of our beautiful commonalities in a time when darkness would seek to divide us by our differences.

As a second step, tomorrow we will find at least 10 minutes to be extravagantly kind to ourselves. This could be a nap, a cup of tea, a walk, a journal entry, a bath, a pedicure, a run, or time on the mat. Any choice that is caring towards yourself. Why will we do this? Because there is a fight ahead. There is ground to take back and ground we have yet to ever possess, and if we are to be warriors in this battle of LOVE we must be fueled with love. We cannot give LOVE we don't know in our own spirits. Newsflash: The revolution starts with you. One single flame, fired up with clarity and focus, not scattered and strung out on scrolling, rather emboldened by LOVE FOR ALL.

Further, in the coming days we will find ways to extend radical kindness to strangers. Offer a smile, anonymously pay for someone's meal, hold a door open, send a note of gratitude to someone doing good work in your town, let someone go in front of you in traffic, give someone a genuine compliment at the grocery store and see them light up. These do not have to cost a dime, and they often will pay residual dividends for the giver and receiver. Why will we do this? Because all of our buckets are running on empty right now. We are weary and discouraged and we need to be reminded of the GOOD. We will be the good for each other, and we will look for the good in each other. Truly, this is the easiest of the steps.

Lastly, tomorrow we will search our hearts and lives and motives. Only you will know what you find. This step will likely not be finished in a day, but over time. We must be willing to take a hard look at who we are, where we've come from, how it shaped us, and what part we have played- knowingly or unknowingly until now- in the American story being written as we speak. Why will we do this? Racism is insidious. It's fairly easy to speak out against a mob of white guys with swastikas and torches. It's harder to look at how we were raised, how a system of white privilege has served and continues to serve us. I find it terribly uncomfortable to examine my own biases and history. But I believe my discomfort has no footing when it's held up in contrast with the suffering of generations of my fellow humans. I know of no other way forward in this revolution than to let it begin in me, and in each of us who are willing individually. It is not enough to simply acknowledge who we are and how we have contributed to and/or benefitted from others' oppression. We must then commit to rising up and meeting the challenge of change. How is this considered radical kindness? Simple. It is a radical form of kindness to admit and expose our own vulnerabilities for the sake of the greater good. Because if we are in this together, if we ALL deserve love, opportunities, and value, we cannot leave any of us behind in the name of staying comfortable. This is the fight of LOVE.

I hope you will receive these words in peace. I would welcome your kind and respectful comments as well as any updates on how things are going for you. What you are doing to make a difference? Feel free to share my words if you feel it would be helpful to others. 

You deserve radical kindness. Every single one of us does. Know that you are loved, you are not alone, and your life matters.