After a week of great fear, anger, and despair--and after watching several "viral" clips this morning blaming all kinds of people left and right, young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, for the failings of American democracy--this article seems incredibly apropos. Surely, we need more dialogue now. Dialogue, listening, understanding, kindness.
Kindness Over Fear: Naomi Shihab Nye Tells the Remarkable Real-Life Story That Inspired Her Beloved Poem “Kindness”
And now back to that business of writing. Sending ❤️ out there into our vast, off-kilter world.
.I just want to say thank you to all of you for your words and posts (private and public) offering solace, wisdom, hope, and a way forward after yesterday's devastating news. It really has helped me hearing from all of you, especially as I’m witnessing all of this from the other side of the pond (which really does feel more of an ocean than a pond at the moment!).
If you’re reading this, I am almost certain you share a common belief in fairness, equality, and dignity for all. You too want a world and a nation in which ALL its members are treated with utmost respect and decency and who therefore have equal access to the very things that a wealthy, enlightened, wise country can offer: education, healthcare, opportunity, safety, respect, dignity. And you would never want that just for your own children. You want it for all children. And you might have (understandably) even unfriended those who don’t believe in these things. And you almost certainly didn’t vote for a man who is openly racist, misogynist, xenophobic, who is supported by the KKK and Putin, who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country, who calls Mexicans “rapists,” and who thinks it’s okay to call women "fat pigs" and "slobs" and assault them, i.e., grab them “by the pussy,” and then brag about it. This is not about being Republican or Democrat. This is about being a decent person who stands up for what is right even if you are moving in various communities that ignore all the bigotry of Trump in order to support a "party" instead of human decency.
And yet we surely need to find new ways of reaching beyond our peer group in our discussions of change. Surely we need to find entrance points into the lives and streets and homes and hearts and minds of the countless women (!) and men who excuse Trump’s behavior and thus support a system built on intolerance, rage, and hate, and who believe in privilege for the few, and who want to forget everyone and everything that isn’t “like” them. I do not think all Trump supporters are racists and, frankly, I don’t think we can get through to those who really are of the KKK ilk, but I do think there was a kind of linguistic “brain-washing” going on that made so many Trump supporters ignore what was right before their eyes.
Protesting can help. Art can help. Hell, Facebook can help. But change cannot happen by protest alone. Action through words and deeds and open hearts is also needed.
I am also talking about the art of everyday humanness and kindness—of teaching, of listening, of creating Mandela-type dialogue even with those who have (sometimes inadvertently even) contributed to this current tragedy in a so-called democracy created for the good of all. If Mandela could make friends with his prison guard—and then invite him to his inauguration—surely we can be inspired by him to find new, more effective ways forward.
Even writing these words has helped. I need all of you. And we need strategies for change that are not about creating more division. Besides, when Trump starts letting people down and putting policies into place that affect his supporters' lives negatively—and hurt the U.S. in word and deed (as he is already doing)—there might just be a huge group of disillusioned followers ready to talk. They have children too. And we can be there for those children. And together maybe we will help create a future that will include a nation full of children and grandchildren who have decency and respect for one another, and who will better practice the art of dialogue, tolerance, and kindness across the widest spectrum of citizens in both the U.S. and the world.