In the chaos of the US election, the Syrian war and global ecosystems collapse, my partner and I had our first child. No, I’m not joking. Not 10 days after the election polls closed and the proverbial “stork” arrived carrying our new girl in its wings. But when the innocent kindness in her eyes probed deep into my heart, I felt a new faith in ... well, everything! With every breath, the matrix of violence and corruption fell away like Neo when he saw through the physical world to the truth behind existence. This baby was medicine in sick times, a symbol for the unexpected rise of love in a predictably falling world.
The days after she was born, I asked myself: how can this world carry so much suffering and so much joy all at once? In the face of untold fears, will I choose kindness or despair? Deep down, I knew that I no longer had the luxury of giving up on the world or hiding away until someone else plays the hero. There was a whole new responsibility (and motivation) for busting through the concrete of hopelessness like a resilient flower on the edge of a trucker’s highway. I went searching for others who were also emerging to see through this time of great “emergency”.
In a surprising discovery of parallel awakenings, I realized that millions of everyday heroes were converting tragedy or challenge into a catalyst for change and awakening. What’s more, many saw this divisive time as an opportunity to heal deeper wounds, perhaps long-ignored by the dull sleep of comfort and security. With that in mind, here’s a few of the awesomest stories I discovered ...
For one, I found out that Maria Shriver had a similar process of transformation. She was struggling to find peace across partisan political boundaries when she was gifted the iconic book called “Random Kindness & Senseless Acts Of Beauty”. Reading excerpts on a LIVE Facebook video garnered over a million views and a collective conversation about how to stand strong in the face of injustice or despair ... and this was on Nov 9th no less! The book (co-written by Dr. Paloma Pavel & Anne Herbert and illustrated by Mayumi Oda), offered a powerful message, like this excerpt:
“Our leaders got confused so…
We’re all leaders now
They told us there was nothing we could do.
They were wrong.
When we tell ourselves there is nothing we can do,
We are wrong.
We never know how much,
And we never know how far it goes.
But always we have power.
We are all in the circle together.”
The book has become a meme for kindness and creativity in the face of warring and violent times. It is a powerful parable for healing corruption in society, yet, made simple through poetic storytelling and moving imagery. Desmond Tutu (with inspirations from the Ubuntu of South Africa) provides further perspective on healing in the forward to the book:
“We are living in a historic moment. We are each called to take part in a great transformation. Our survival as a species is threatened by global warming, economic meltdown, and an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor. Yet these threats offer an opportunity to awaken as an interconnected and beloved community.”
Moving from this powerful foundation, I started to connect the dots. I saw how crisis often brings the greatest beauty and upliftment. For a few examples, #Leadwithlove, #TheLoveArmy and #SanctuaryEverywhere are all distinct campaigns which have exploded nationally to highlight acts of solidarity and kindness in the face of hate or impunity. The tragic violation of human and environmental treatise rights on ancestral lands in North Dakota (at the #StandingRock Sioux Reservation) has amazingly brought together more indigenous tribal nations than anything else in modern history. And the primary strategy to stop a multi-billion dollar oil company from destroying sacred waters has been the use of non-violence and prayer to expose wrongdoing! By all accounts, hundreds of millions of “everyday heroes” are rekindling their activist spirits, knowing that the coming years will require everyone to act.
Throughout every story I discovered, I felt beautiful demonstrations of a perennial human spirit. And I realized that the spirit of human kind is actually kindness! Doh! Like the sweet power of my baby’s breath, life will always find a way. And it takes the generosity of life, the kindness of life, to allow for the world to continue. Even the biggest bully or criminal was once shown kindness by his or her parent. So it only makes sense that in a time of great crisis, random acts of kindness actually increase 10x. In fact, they are far greater in number than the hate crimes primarily reported in the mainstream media!
So, will YOU join this circle of upliftment and togetherness? If not for yourself, think about the children being born today (or those unborn)! Like that wonderful little book reminds us, “the steps we take now decide what kind of earth that will be.” Will we walk toward an earth of hatred or an earth of kindness? I know the direction I am headed...and it just might be a dance.
For more ways to take action and connect with others in this movement please visit randomkindnessproject.org