Oh the Humanity

http://www.acclaimimages.com/_gallery/_free_images/0420-1010-1615-0910_hands_together_as_a_symbol_of_teamwork_o.jpgThere has been a lot of stuff lately.  Race, gender, violence, tragedy, accusations, outcry.  It is natural to want to despair, to get defensive, to avoid, to confront, to rage, to wonder.  I have felt all of those things.

Most of all I have felt small.  I am probably part of the problem.  And there is very little I feel I can contribute to the solution in any meaningful way, given how entrenched and engrained are our ills.  That is terribly frustrating.     

I have decided - more like, committed - to responding to all of this by practicing more kindness to others.  This may seem obvious, but it is not natural for me.  I am not normally a nice person.  And, lately, I have become a very busy and driven person.  I am also very introverted.  So random human interactions I often treat as necessary evils to be gotten through as quickly and cleanly as possible.

Again, it is not natural for me to do any other way.  But I am trying really hard to slow down and have real, genuine, warm human contact.  Smiles, jokes, compliments, questions that earnestly desire to hear real answers - these are all things that make for pleasant human interaction, and that leave all parties feeling happier and more interconnected. 

In my life, I have the privilege of intersecting with a lot of different kinds of people.  They span the range of humankind in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, age, and socio-economic status.  And the more authentic moments I have with everyone, maybe a little bit of humanity is restored each time, maybe a little bridge is built, maybe a little bit of cynicism is worn away. 

I'm no dummy.  I realize that pervasive and entrenched social ills won't get wished away just from acting nice.  But this is my small way of reclaiming human connection.  I am not a revolutionary or a rabble-rouser.  I'm not likely going to march or demonstrate or protest.  But, somehow, being nice to others feels a little subversive.  It makes me feel good.  And it reminds me that we are all human, we are all connected, and we all benefit when we treat each other with a little kindness.

Words matter.  When we are demeaned/marginalized/devalued and we speak up, that is good, because we must convey that to be treated as such is inhumane.  When we are not demeaned/marginalized/devalued but we speak up on behalf of those who are, that too is good, because it demonstrates that we are not hiding in our privileged place, but rather are voicing our disapproval of the sin and our solidarity with those sinned against.

So, yes, words matter.  But actions matter, too.  Some will act by marching, demonstrating, protesting.  I salute that as a powerful expression of solidarity, to walk and mourn and rage together as the aggrieved or as the brother and sister of the aggrieved.  My choice of action, my form of solidarity, is a steady, steely commitment to genuine, warm, and respectful interactions with my fellow humans.  It may seem small, but to me it is hard work and it has meaningful impact. 

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