Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Do you ever feel like the violence and pain in the world is increasing? I understand from a survivalist perspective is that violence is wired into our brains. I understand from the social behavioral perspective the desire for dominance and power as demonstrated in the Stanford Prison experiment... anyone can see this demonstrated by example no matter what chapter of history you open. Yet our brains are also wired to give and receive love. We experience pleasure through acts of kindness.
I often wonder why we choose to promote harm when it appears that we are also wired to cultivate kindness? If we are wired for both, then bringing this to the forefront of our thoughts may allow the behavior to become a choice. "Do I want to cultivate kindness or fear? Do I want to live in a country dominated by power or governed by equality and kindness?"
The US of A uses a collection of words to say every man is free and equal while excusing its leaders...present and past, the benefits of slavery as well as benefiting from all types of oppression. While the US government was in its developmental stages we were responsible for decimating an entire continent of First Nation Americans. The truth is that the US constitution was not created for all citizens to benefit equally, or have equal access to education and protection politically, economically or legally. I'll bet everyday we participate in multiple forms of oppression, from the entertainment we choose to the goods we buy.
When haven’t we had ugliness in our hearts, the will and the power to dominate over the natural order of our soil and plants, our eco systems, each other?
I don’t know what to do with this information. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed I can’t swallow. Other times I get so mad I yell until hot acidic tears leave my cheeks stained. Sometimes I curl into a ball holding my knees and sobbing from all that suffering. After I flood myself with stress hormones then collapse into exhaustion, I become aware that this is also not helping me or anyone else. So what does one do? I think the answer begins with a question.
Can you be kind?
How are you kind to yourself on a daily basis? Is your internal voice nurturing? Are you living your truest life? Start here, because if you don’t know how to cultivate kindness for your own self, how will you extend this to someone else? Next, what are the things you want for your own life?...Think basic, like access to non toxic food and safe drinkable water, access to medical care and safe affordable housing. Do you feel like your neighbors and community should have access to these things too? If you didn’t have access to these things for your self or your beloveds, would you be willing to move or change? Self reflection can turn up some interesting answers. A kind thing would be to allow yourself to explore and sit with what you unearth.
Then I reach the stopping point of knowing each of us will have different answers and reach different conclusions. Why is it that some folks have a harder time extending kindness past what’s familiar? Why do we distance ourselves from what we perceive as different? Have you begun to realize we are all having the same experience of birth and death...or that every single one of us, no matter what pigmentation, physical-cognitive ability or gender, contribute to the exhalation of carbon dioxide which allow our trees and plants to breathe. We all feel discomfort and pain, plants animals and humans. So how about we stop contributing to the pain, and start cultivating kindness?
My New Year’s wish is for everyone to experience more kindness, through giving and receiving. Please consider my call to action. Can you be kind with yourself today...maybe correct yourself if you mutter something self depreciating? Will you make eye contact with a stranger and smile? Let someone merge into your traffic lane? Will you use your voice to lift people up?
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
Wishing the world peace on earth and good will expressed between all living beings. Please be kind to your trees, they may not want to give up their life to be lavishly decorated in your living room. There are some awesome article leads below that discuss similarities between us.
References and interesting articles:
Special to the NY Times, June 28, 1987; Iroquois constitution: A Forerunner to Colonists’ Democratic Principles. https://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/28/us/iroquois-constitution-a-forerunner-to-colonists-democratic-principles.htm