Is It All a Crock?

“The times it’s most important to be kind are also when it’s hardest to be kind.” (Donna Cameron)

Attribution: Donna CameronI don’t want to write this blog post. I’m tired. I’m grumpy. I’m sick of the election and sick of talking or thinking about it. Like a petulant child, I demand a do-over.

Most times, I tend to be an annoyingly optimistic person, but it’s been hard to summon any of that buoyant nature. It’s just easier to snarl.

You’re probably tired, too, of passionate blog posts about the election and how the world is likely to disintegrate. A couple of my friends who follow this blog were Trump supporters. I rather suspect they are no longer following. That makes me sad. But it illustrates the polarization we saw on both sides throughout the election. Most of us (myself included) only wanted to hear or read what supported our own personal biases and beliefs. That’s probably why so many of us were stunned by the election results. The very wise Michelle at The Green Study, wrote an excellent post about becoming a more educated citizen by looking for new—and more objective—sources for news and information. I recommend it, as well as her many other thoughtful messages.

I’ve been delaying getting to the actual point of my post, which is:

What scares me most—even more than the election of someone I can never respect, whose values, words, and behaviors appall me—is the thought that maybe this is all a crock.

This kindness business. A crock.

A couple of days after the election my seriously depressed husband said something to the effect: “You’ve got it all wrong. Kindness doesn’t work. Hate won the election. Hate and lies and bigotry. Kindness can’t stand up to those things. People who claim to be moral were willing to overlook sexual offenses, lying, bullying, bigotry, and a petty, revenge mentality. Morality is clearly situational when self-interest is involved. Kindness doesn’t work.”

This kindness business. A crock?

Since the election, the news—which I am trying to avoid—has reported countless incidents of hate across the nation: Muslim women being harassed and having their hijabs torn off … gay and transgender people attacked … swastikas and “KKK” scrawled in public areas … and so many more. And these by the people who WON the election. The winning candidate purports to disavow these actions (“Please stop,” he says), but his whole campaign deliberately fostered this sort of hate and fear. It’s not something that can be turned off like a faucet.

But I digress again. I’m trying to avoid my central question: Is kindness a crock? Is my husband right that it doesn’t work and the election proves it?

My answer is shaky. It’s doleful. But also mostly determined. No, kindness isn’t a crock. Kindness does work. We may not be able to see it now, but it’s there, it’s powerful, and ultimately it will prevail. If it doesn’t, then the world becomes a dark and doomed place and I’m not willing to accept that.

The well’s a bit dry now, but it will continue to fill up—from below—from the depths where human goodness resides and always will. It will fill up as we hear more stories like: the good people of Tucson who replaced messages of hatred toward a mosque with ones of love … or the people who painted over the swastikas and hate messages … or those who stood up to the bullies who were harassing others for being unlike themselves.

Kindness has to counter the fear that is at the heart of hate and anger. And we must always remember that kindness is not weak (that’s what they’re counting on!). Kindness is a strength—a superpower—and it’s one that each of us has at our command. It’s going to take time and it will take an army—a kindness army.

Like any superpower, kindness is most effective when employed with other weapons of mass construction: activism, reason, political savvy, knowledge, strategy, determination, solidarity, and an unwillingness to back down or stay silent in the face of injustice, lies, or incivility.

As long as we believe in kindness and continue to act on our belief—even despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary—it will ultimately prevail.

To believe otherwise makes it just too hard to get up in the morning. What do you think? Is kindness a crock?

“If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.” (Lao Tzu)



14 thoughts on “Is It All a Crock?

  1. Kindness is most definitely not a crock. It’s vulnerable, for sure, and tested severely in our time. But more and more now, I feel called to reach out and connect. First with those already close–like when you’re sitting next to each other watching a movie, and you reach out and grab their hand during the scary parts. And then, once we are safe among our own, we all (and/or each) reach out to people we may have avoided before. This is how children do it–make sure mom and dad are close, the safe haven, and then venture out to explore, experience, and learn. Maybe that’s what we’re missing these days–our secure attachments that make it okay to take risks? Well anyway, thanks for sharing this, Donna. It’s not easy to face the possibility of our core values invalidated. But like you say, the well will fill in from the deep. And it’s also kinda cool to see the innards of the well when it’s dry, no? Lots to learn there. 😉 Stay on the path, my friend. We are here with you. ❤

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  2. Here’s my less-than-sentimental take on kindness. Does it matter if it’s a crock? Does it matter if it does not hold power, sway voters or turn the tides of racism? Who do we want to be? Deciding to be kind in the face of hate, in the face of sneers and snideness and name-calling – that’s a radical act. To love and show compassion in the face of all this, is true and honorable courage. I’d rather be courageous than powerful any old day. Take care of yourself, Donna – your kindness is needed more than ever.

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    • You really are a wise woman, Michelle. Choosing kindness is a radical act. And whether kindness can overcome incivility and whether it can ultimately change the world becomes secondary. It really is all about who and what each of us chooses to be, and to manifest in our lives. That choice—made over and over—is ultimately what will heal the world (or not, I suppose). Your comment reminds me of the old quote: “Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” Thanks for the encouraging words.

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  4. Well, Donna, despite the very unkind feelings I continue to have since the election, I’m still with the Dalai Lama: kindness is my religion. And I will practice it every chance I get. You may have also read this uplifting news story recently — another example of how the bright light of kindness can pierce the darkness of hatred and ignorance:

    A Texas woman gave a Christian family the surprise of their lives after she heard them engage in a post-election discussion rife with homophobic language at a restaurant near her home.
    Natalie Woods, who hails from Denton, Texas, told The Huffington Post she was dining at Snuffer’s Restaurant and Bar in Addison on Nov. 11 when she overheard one of the three family members discussing how “disgusted” he was after learning their “liberal” nephew had come out as gay. 
    Once the other members of the group said they would “pray” for Jesus to “cure” their nephew, Woods decided to “actually act like the Jesus I grew up learning about.” Rather than confront the family directly, however, she said she chose to “show love” and, inspired by Michelle Obama’s famous “when they go low, we go high” suggestion at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, paid for their meal.  
    She left a handwritten note on the receipt, writing, “Happy holidays from the very gay, very liberal table sitting next to you. Jesus made me this way.” She then added, “P.S. Be accepting of your family.”
    Woods left before the other table learned their bill had been settled, but shared a snapshot of the receipt to her Facebook page, where it quickly received over 700 likes and an outpouring of support. “The world is made better by actions of compassion and love. Thank you,” one person wrote. Added another: “I am too often horrified and ashamed at the news coming out of our state. You are a class act, all the way.” 
    Woods, who used to work for the Human Rights Campaign, told HuffPost the incident reminded her that despite the strides that the LGBTQ community has made in recent years, “that fight is long [from] over.”
    “It’s time myself and the people of this country defend each other, defend minorities, defend people of all races and religions,” she said. “Sometimes it starts with small acts of love, sometimes it’s protesting in the streets, voting, lobbying, or running for a local office.” Ultimately, she hopes her story will inspire others to “continue the message of love.”

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    • Ah, Kris, I hadn’t seen that story, and it made my day…maybe my week. It brought tears to my eyes (a lot of things do lately, but this was in a good way!). Thank you so much for sharing this story of compassion and living one’s values. How interesting it would have been to see the reaction of the family whose meal was paid for by the kind Texas liberal (class act, indeed!). I hope it made at least one of them think again about their very small-minded “Christian” attitudes. Michelle Obama totally nailed it: ”they go low, we go high.” Thank you again, my friend.


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