Are you overwhelmed to the point that you say to yourself, What could I possibly do to make a difference?
The answer is:
You can make a difference because kindness trumps all.
I recently wrote Ellen Degeneres to thank her for her ongoing efforts to spread kindness. Sure, at the end of each of her daily shows she says, Be kind to one another, but she puts force behind those words in what she does for others. At the conclusion of my letter to her, I said the following:
We’re not charged with changing the entire world, but we can have an impact on the miniscule portion of the world to which we have access. You’re doing it, and I will continue to do what I can from my corner of the world. If everyone makes a fraction of a difference right from where they are, those fractions will add up to great things.
I’m glad I’m on the same kindness train as you, Ellen, and I’ll keep chugging along until I can’t chug any longer.
I sincerely believe that random acts or words of kindness can make a difference in the world in which we live. There are so many negative and hurtful words being thrust into our universe, can’t we just please try to balance out that hurt with words of encouragement, recognition, and nourishment?
Yes, nourishment. In all our daily interactions – be they via social media or in person – we can nurture the hurt that exists all around us. Our words, our smile, our actions may just change the life of someone forever. Haven’t you been on the receiving end of that type of transformative nourishment? Didn’t it feel good? Didn’t it fill the emptiness within you that hungered and thirsted for confirmation that you matter, that you aren’t a failure, that you have potential?
Let’s revisit how that felt and commit to quenching the thirst of each person with whom we come in contact.
There’s a new social media trend going on right now initiated by Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, and Revlon. You can see their mini-video by visiting Ellen’s website. The trend is being expressed by these phrases:
With all the discord among the citizens of the United States due in part to a lack of discourse between groups who have purposefully alienated themselves from each other, perhaps love is the one quality with which we can clothe ourselves to be more open and accepting of each other.
We don’t have to agree with everyone’s opinions or leanings, but can’t we at least respect each other enough to listen?
Can’t we just listen without bringing our own preconceived perceptions and prejudices to the forefront?
Please, don’t turn off others’ voices.
My local newspaper, the Seattle Times, has a daily mini-column titled, Rant and Rave. I always read that column, but I’m most interested in the Raves because acts of kindness are spotlighted. As you can see in the attached link, one portion of the column is affirming, the other, not so much.
I wrote to the editor of that particular section, asking him to put more focus on the Raves, maybe even excluding the Rants from time to time, because the general public has so many social media venues in which to complain. I haven’t heard back from him yet, but I am hopeful that I eventually will.
I sincerely believe we all have a responsibility to counter balance the negativity that surrounds us, and distributing kindnesses to others is one very easy way of doing so. The yucky things that go on in the world get all the attention; the spotlight shines brightly on those things; the good that occurs barely receives the dying flame from a match.
What can you do to make the world a better place?
Be kind to one another, all day, every day.
What happened to the country into which I was born?
What happened to freedom of thought, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech?
Allow me to go back in history for a brief moment: March 1991 saw astonishing violence exhibited toward an African American, Rodney King, resultant from Mr. King’s decision not to pull over during a high-speed chase when pursued by Los Angeles Police Department officers. Officers were tried in a court of law for their excessive use of violence and three of those officers were acquitted, sparking the historical 1992 Los Angeles riots. Mr. King observed said violence and was upset at what transpired during those riots. What follows is a portion of his response to the ensuing actions and his plea for peace:
“I just want to say – you know – can we all get along? Can we, can we get along? … It’s just not right – it’s not right. And it’s not going to change anything. We’ve got to quit – we’ve got to quit. And uh, I mean please, we can, we can get along here. We all can get along – we just gotta, we gotta. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while, let’s, you know let’s try to work it out, let’s try to beat it, you know, let’s try to work it out.”
There is so much division in our country, division that has polarized families, friends, and neighbors and brought about a renewed and jarring brand of hatred and intolerance. This hatred thrives in both conservative, moderate, and liberal circles. We are all guilty. We are all intolerant.
This growth of intolerance toward those who have an opinion different from our own has got to stop. Even if I am diametrically opposed to the opinions of others, the core of who I am must allow for at least an openness to hear from those whose core speaks differently. Listening doesn’t mean converting; it means allowing others the freedom to believe what they believe but only as long as such beliefs don’t promote actions or words that denigrate and ostracize all of us who are struggling to survive in the very limited time we have on this Earth.
There will never come a time when all individuals on this earth are in 100% agreement, but the need for discourse is emergent.
We all have opinions that lean one way or another, but strong leanings should be just that: a leaning that still allows for flexibility so that jointly we can work toward the betterment – rather than the tearing down – of our fellow man.
“I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while, let’s, you know let’s try to work it out, let’s try to beat it, you know, let’s try to work it out.”
Rejecting hatred and intolerance in all forms begins with you, and it begins with me … every day, for the rest of our lives.
We read a news story that pisses us off either because the story being reported gets our blood boiling or the person about whom that story is written – whether a politician, entertainer, or some other public figure – is someone we’re not exactly enamored with, then we feed and nurture the news story by spreading it on our personal social media accounts. Isn’t doing so drawing attention to someone we don’t like? Giving that someone the attention we deem they should not receive? If we’re perturbed about a public figure, isn’t it more appropriate to just avoid any mention of her or him? We have far more power than we think we do in these matters.
We’re all guilty of this behavior. What is it in us human beings that we read bad news and can’t wait to spread it so that others can get as upset as we were when we were exposed to it?
Isn’t it a better option that collectively, the world decides once and for all, “Not gonna do it. Not gonna go there. I’m gonna kill the story by not feeding it. I’m not gonna ruin someone else’s day, someone who was probably doing just fine up until they read my ill-thought out Facebook Share or Retweet. No, it’s time for an about-face.
As I’ve said several times before, I don’t want to be responsible for ruining someone’s day, or for making them angry or upset. That’s a responsibility I’m not going to place upon my shoulders. Instead, I’m gonna build up, not tear down.
I’ve been authoring this blog, Baby Boomers and More, for five and a half years. Perhaps that’s a record for blog ownership, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I thoroughly enjoy writing about matters of significance. I guess that’s why my blog has survived as long as it has: there are a heck of a lot of things going on in the world that fall into that category.
My website address remains the same: http://www.babyboomersandmore.com, but with a broader emphasis on life as it unfolds for all of us born within a certain year bracket:
- iGen (after 2000)
- Millennials (1980-2000)
- Gen X (1965-1979)
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and
- The Greatest Generation (before the end of WWII).
Yes, there are many differences between the generations but we have one major characteristic in common: although as individuals we are strong in many ways, we still need each other to get to the finish line.
With that change in overall focus comes a new, primary blog identification:
Living: the ultimate team sport
If we consider all the people with whom we come in contact as being members of the same team, we will do all we can to support them. We’ll bolster rather than compete; we’ll pick them up rather than step over them as a means to an end; we’ll exhibit respect for each other’s talents while nurturing our own; we’ll not take advantage of weaknesses in order to falsely boost our own strengths. In short, we’ll stand by our teammates and want only the very best for them.
Another goal of mine: write more succinctly, at least after this particular post. 🙂 I know you’re all busy and have better things to do than read my oftentimes lengthy magnum opuses. I’m newly committed to being as succinct as possible, somewhere along the lines of an article I wrote on December 27, 2016: Don’t go there. Let’s face it, as a writer, I should be able to use an economy of words to get my point across to those who’ve chosen to follow me.
And one last thing: the header images you’ll see at the top of my blog (which will cycle through randomly) are from photos I took during a few of my hikes around the Pacific Northwest. Hiking is my passion, so I’m pleased to provide snapshots of views I have been privileged to see.
With that, I’ll sign off for now, so very glad to be a member of your team.
If I can’t do anything useful, at least I would like to do as little harm as possible. Wherever You Go, There You Are, by John Kabat-Zihn
Do no harm is a practice found in various aspects of society – including the Hippocratic Oath – and it was the underlying principle of Mahatma Gandhi’s revolution and his personal meditation practice. But what does it mean? Is it really as simple as doing no harm? You tell me.
Do no harm: Don’t do anything while driving that will piss off other drivers.
Do no harm: Don’t speak ill of others behind their back.
Do no harm: Don’t use social media to bully or anger an individual or a group of people.
Do no harm: Don’t ignore the server or courtesy clerk who’s working as hard as he/she can for you. Engage them in conversation; make their day by respecting what they do.
Do no harm: Don’t be unkind to anyone; think of how it felt when someone was unkind to you.
Do no harm: Don’t litter or do anything that harms the environment, regardless of how small.
Do no harm: Don’t put off a kindness such as sending a card to someone for no reason at all – or for every reason you can think of. Your card and message may be just what that person needs that day.
Do no harm: Don’t ignore the impulse to turn around to the person behind you while in line to say, “I’m not in a hurry, why don’t you go before me.” You may not be in a rush and he or she may be; think how your thoughtfulness will impact the remainder of their day.
Do no harm: Don’t keep compliments to yourself. For example, if your spouse or friend looks nice, tell him or her. It doesn’t do the person any good if you keep it to yourself. Your lack of attention may cause harm.
Do no harm: Don’t expect someone else to make a difference; you make a difference in whatever way you can, even if doing so is an inconvenience. Your inconvenience may be just what the world needs at that very moment in time.
Do no harm: What I have provided above barely scratches the surface of how we can do no harm. Please add your input in the comments section below to provide all of us with examples of how we might improve our personal corner of the world.
My wish for you: health, joy, and peace in the New Year.