Let's Talk About Kindness
Whooooo-boy, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, isn’t there? I like to treat stressful times with humor, when I can, and I have to admit, I’ve found many of the memes going around about 2020 funny (and at times cringe-worthy).
“Sounds like thunder outside, but with the way 2020 is going, it might be Godzilla”
Multiple choice question:
“What was the biggest threat in 2020?”
Possible answers: a) Murder Hornets, b) Covid-19, c) toilet paper shortage, d) Carole Baskin
But now, after everything we’ve endured so far (*waving hand vaguely in the air*) things are getting MORE stressful, aren’t they? The political unrest on top of the one hundred and something days of the pandemic (that’s just in New York); the fear of states opening too soon (or for some, not soon enough); and frankly, a deep unease about the future – it literally is too much.
I see it (on the rare occasions I venture out of my house to get groceries); fewer smiles (or maybe it’s that you can’t tell people are smiling with face masks on?); less accommodating behavior to others; many more verbal complaints about “enough already!”
Because it is, really, enough already. And now in June, the halfway point of what we all know is going to be a remarkably long year, we need to take a breather. Recalibrate, find a balance, “center ourselves” as they say in yoga class (I watched a yoga class on YouTube once). Because we might have all had enough already, but we have a way to go anyway.
Have you heard of or read Carl Sagan’s book “The Pale Blue Dot”? I admit, I hadn’t, until a library colleague sent me a link (that was forwarded to her from someone else…isn’t technology grand, sometimes?). There is an excerpt from Mr. Sagan’s book that deeply resonated and says what I’ve been feeling and what I’m trying to put down in words here.
The excerpt starts with an image of the earth from space, “a pale blue dot”:
“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love,
everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering…every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light…There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”
It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another… We need, all of us, every single one of us, to figure out how to be kinder, gentler. Take a deep breath through your face mask (that you’re sweating through) when the person in line ahead of you is taking FOREVER and please, you just need to get outside and rip that fabric off your face; but take that breath and breathe out kindness – because you don’t know that person’s story.
Or perhaps you’re scrolling mindlessly through FB and see a post or a comment that makes your blood boil… Sure, feel free to comment and disagree, but hey – no name calling. How has that ever helped?
It’s the end of the work day, you’ve answered approximately 679 emails already (but who’s counting), and you just have a couple of more to get through…Take 5 seconds longer to answer that email; sure, quick and abrupt is efficient, but who wants to read that? (If you’re an efficient typist, it literally won’t take 5 seconds to sprinkle some kindness.)
I’m talking to myself, of course, as much as anyone else. I’ve had a lot of “take a deep breath and pause” moments in the last few weeks. I’m sure there are going to be more. What I hope, though, is that I will remember Carl Sagan’s words, and cherish our small pale dot, and all of its inhabitants.
How about you?