Where Kindness Meets the Resistance

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” (William Faulkner)

Attribution: Donna CameronI love it when a new idea taps me on the shoulder (or whacks me upside my head!).

Recently, I was reading The Best American Essays of 2019, edited by the always invigorating Rebecca Solnit. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the best essays of 2019 are political in nature. Given the times, it could not be otherwise. I was particularly struck by one short essay, “We Are Not the Resistance,” by Michelle Alexander. It first appeared in the New York Times, so you can read it here. She contends that those of us who oppose Donald Trump and everything his administration stands for are not the resistance. Trump and his ilk are the resistance. It is they who are resisting the march of history—the march toward our nation becoming “a multiracial, multiethnic, multifaith, egalitarian democracy in which every life and every voice truly matters.”

Ms. Alexander further asserts that “the whole of American history can be described as a struggle between those who truly embraced the revolutionary idea of freedom, equality and justice for all and those who resisted.”

While, yes, millions of us are resisting Donald Trump, and will continue to do so as long as we have breath, we should also remember that—viewed from an historical perspective—we are not the resistance, Donald Trump is.

This outlook strengthens my resolve and gives me hope.

I encourage you to read the essay, and to share it. It articulates a perspective we will need during 2020 and beyond, no matter what the election brings.

Can Kindness Be Political?

A friend recently opined that as a blogger and author who writes and speaks about kindness, I can’t be too political. “After all,” she said, “It isn’t kind to be critical of politicians or their supporters.”

This comment demonstrates one of the biggest misconceptions about kindness: that kind people are docile, accepting, and spineless. That—to avoid rocking the boat or inciting confrontation—they will meekly accept other people’s bad behavior and overlook injustice.

That’s not kindness. That’s being a Milquetoast.

It’s true that YOLK is not a political blog. Its focus for more than five years has been on kindness—except for those rare occasions when I’ve strayed into jazz, or baseball, or cats (and even then, kindness was always in the wings). In recent years, my posts have become increasingly political—because it’s impossible to ignore the rampaging elephant in the room. I know I have lost blog followers—and even friends—by speaking my mind. I regret the losses, but not my words. I hope I have been civil. My intent is not to offend, but to open a dialogue and perhaps even a mind.

I see this in other blogs, too. Humor blogs, travel blogs, blogs about retirement, books, health, or nature. I applaud every blogger who has stepped from the safety of their original intent to speak for a future where integrity, honesty, and compassion reign. Thank you for speaking your mind … and for voicing your courageous kindness.

While kindness is certainly a choice in our interpersonal dealings with one another, it’s also in our bond with our community, our nation, and the world.

One-to-One Kindness

In our one-to-one exchanges, I can disagree with someone—even vociferously—and still be civil. I can abhor their political views and perhaps even their prejudices, without resorting to name-calling, shaming, or vilifying them. I can stand up for my political views and values without demonizing someone who disagrees. Sometimes it’s a matter of not saying everything I’m thinking—because I know those thoughts will only polarize us further. My hopes of opening a mind or engaging in civil dialogue are dashed if the person I’m dealing with feels attacked. It’s the same if they attack me. Progress stalls when we fall into our reptilian brains.

Kindness at a Broader Level

Beyond one-to-one, kindness must also be how we approach life. It must encompass our hopes for the future, our commitment to our values, our determination to stand up for those who are marginalized or mistreated. In this all-embracing kindness, we speak our mind and walk our talk. We will not be silenced because someone declares, “It’s not kind to criticize our president.”

To the contrary, criticism of the President, of his cronies, accomplices, and enablers, is kindness to the future. It’s activism toward decency and our children’s and grandchildren’s quality of life. It’s kindness toward our planet.

It is not kindness to remain silent and compliant in the face of injustice.

The children separated from their parents and locked up at our borders. The silencing of the press. The withholding of truth and willful lies. The distortions for political gain. These must be called out—again and again. We’ve seen what happens when good people stay silent. Those who say it can’t happen here may find comfort in their delusion, but they are deluded just the same. It is happening here.

The greatest kindness we can do in this year that tests us in so many ways is to stand up for our values, for our democracy, for the Constitution, and for one another. Silence is neither kind nor prudent. It’s what they’re counting on.

There are few things more important than the outcome of this year’s election—not just because it determines who will occupy the White House for the next four years, but because it tells the world—and ourselves—who we are and what we will value and defend. If not truth, what? If not our brothers and sisters, who? If not today, when?

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

 

27 thoughts on “Where Kindness Meets the Resistance

  1. It is not kindness to remain silent and compliant in the face of injustice.

    This is the truth of the matter. Well said. Also I like the idea that The Donald and his cronies are the resistance to the reality of now. Smart way of looking at things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seeing Trump and his minions as the resistance was eye-opening for me, Ally, and it strengthens my resolve to help make the inclusive American Dream a reality. They are our dark past and the dust-bin of history is ready to welcome them. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes to ALL of this, Donna! Thank you for speaking the truth. We must not normalize the crazy-making of this time. This administration has taken a toll on many of us, but words like yours give hope. We are not alone. This is not normal. I have read the Alexander essay, but will reread it now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this Donna. And I love this thought that it is Trump/Trumpists who are the resistance. It is a real insight into him, what has driven him his whole life and also into those he attracts. He’s a lifelong malcontent who is systematically destroying all the systems, laws, processes and values he has always resented because he felt they excluded and restricted him. He’s never fit in and now the world is paying for it. He’s saying “I’ll show them!” And that’s what he has in common with his followers, who have probably also felt excluded and resentful throughout their lives. They haven’t fit in either.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was on the subway before and I was thinking about how I was trying to be nice about something, and I ended up annoyed at myself, and then I was annoyed that I couldn’t get past it, and it was sort of like what you’re saying…kindness doesn’t mean letting others have their way…it’s not exactly what you’re saying, but it resonated with me

    Liked by 1 person

  5. To every single word of this, Donna: YES x 1000!!

    Being kind and being nice operate out of polar opposite motivations: the kind person is internally motivated, the nice person is externally motivated. One of the most repetitious insults that trump throws at his enemies — particularly women — is that they’re “not nice” (in fact, they may be (horrors!) “nasty.) It occurs to me that there’s an obvious corollary here. The nice person craves acceptance, validation and approval of others, and is fearful of rejection — the very same root of trump’s desperate, bottomless narcissistic neediness. The bully has learned this lesson: being nice is for losers; if they won’t love you, by god, make them fear you.

    Kindness is true strength, and we are stronger together. Thank you, my kind, courageous friend, for keeping the candle burning.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastic post, and I couldn’t agree more! Kindness is not synonymous with spinelessness. Truth can be spoken kindly and with respect, and it sounds like your intention is to do just that. Personally, I think it’s dangerous to opt for silence in the face of such cruelty, any cruelty, and currently there’s far too much of that going on. Just wanted to let you know I’m glad to have stumbled across your blog. I look forward to reading more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Where Kindness Meets the Resistance | "Making our World a better place from my little corner of this Earth".Windows From Heaven Author/Photographer Matthew C Seufer

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