When All Else Fails, Be Kind

Don't sink to anyone else's lows.

Last Tuesday, I walked into my therapy appointment with hope in my heart, anticipating celebrations with my friends and husband after my session. Hillary was going to be ours, our Madam President. Our ceiling-breaker. Our proclamation to the world that women are coming and you can't stop us.

As I left my therapist's office one hour later, I jokingly said that maybe he should hope for a Trump presidency. Job stability, right?

I got in my car and turned on NPR. And it was clear that Hillary was not going to win. One hour is all it took for all of the commentators to shut down their optimism for Hillary and begin darkly reporting Trump's galloping electoral lead. Women had been stopped in our tracks, along with many other vulnerable groups of people.

It was the worst moment I've experienced on a national level in 15 years. I was heartbroken in an instant, in a way that felt like my first love leaving me and choosing someone else. Which totally happened and it sucked then. This sucks way more.

I got sad and angry and had all the feelings, as you do when things go so sideways that they flip upside down. It was disorienting. It's still disorienting.

I woke up the next morning, ugly cried into my coffee as I watched Secretary Clinton's concession speech, and then I went to work. My kitchen is where most of my work takes place and I pulled out all the chocolate and cookies and treats I could get my hands on, which isn't much because I try not to keep much sugar in the house. (I fail, btw.) I dipped two trays of cookies and a box of cereal in warm chocolate. I said blessings over them. 

Later, I passed out those treats to surprised strangers. I made sure to tell them that I wasn't trying to poison anyone, and I only wanted to share a little love with them. The greatest things happened. They softened. They said thank you. They asked for hugs. They commiserated. They cried. Because in a day filled with grief and fear and confusion, a small kindness made a noticeable difference. 

Kindness is the antidote to the poison being pedaled by the Trumps of the world. Your anger is valid and important, and your despair should never be overlooked. And you can be all of the things, feel all of the feelings, ardently and vigorously defend the most vulnerable among us, say all of the words you need to say, and still act with an undercurrent of kindness. 

Now is not the time to share, create, spread, or eat poison, and there is an abundance of it circulating right now.

Don't take the bait.

Get angry, and get organized.

Get sad, and let us hold each other in our grief.

Get clear about who is trying to give you their poison cookie, and say no thank you. Yell it if you want to. Slap it out of their hands if you need to. But do not take their poison into your body. And for the love of pantsuits everywhere, DO NOT SHARE THAT POISON COOKIE WITH ANYONE ELSE.

Get out of bed, and rise up, daughters. Mothers. Sons and Fathers. It will feel impossible. 

RISE UP.

And be kind.

Because here's the thing. Kindness is the antidote to the poison being pedaled by the Trumps of the world. Your anger is valid and important, and your despair should never be overlooked. And you can be all of the things, feel all of the feelings, ardently and vigorously defend the most vulnerable among us, say all of the words you need to say, and act with an undercurrent of kindness. 

Be kind toward yourself first. You are doing your best. Keep a kind attitude toward your own life right now. You are doing the very best you can to be in your body.

Be kind to people who will be (and most definitely are) subjected to oppression. Ignorant (deplorable?) people are force-feeding them poison, and kindness will go a long way to counter it. 

Be kind to strangers. (Unless they are openly oppressing, harassing, abusing, or hurting others. Then stand up for those who are being hurt, and tell the abusers to f*ck off, because that is entirely appropriate.)

Be kind on social media. Hide people, unfriend them, block them if you must. Stand tall for justice and equality and equanimity. But do not return their poison. You are better than that.

Be kind in practical ways. Buy a coffee for the person at the back of the line, rake your neighbor's leaves, bake some motherf*cking cookies. And listen to each other. 

Be kind in real life. Offer support for those who are hurting. Check in with each other. Use this list of resources if you or someone you know is showing signs of extreme depression, despair, or suicide. Keep reaching out.

What's happened in our country is not okay. It will never be okay, and it's okay that it's not okay. We don't need to force anyone out of their experience, or talk them out of their feelings. We can be kind to each other, though. And we can be kind to ourselves as we all acclimate to this new world around us.

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