In the morning as I’m waking, I try to remember to say “thank you.” Such a small, personal ritual, a way to enter the day. And then I hear the steady drumbeat of political blood sport and pandemic fears, and I get that today, just like yesterday is going to take focus and commitment in order to hang onto hope and be a force for good.
It’s unfortunate that even with the best of intention, I can’t make the sickness of heart and mind that has overtaken our country go away. But I take solace in knowing that there are millions and millions of people just like me who want to be a force for good, who are a force for good. My actions today won’t change the political landscape overnight or cure the pain of a raging pandemic, but there are things that I can do. And in these times, I have to cling to that hope in order to stay sane.
What is asked of us in times such as these? Little gestures of kindness and love that one person makes can be multiplied by millions and that creates change. The message that must be untangled and set straight is that somehow kindness is weak. It’s not. Kindness is a strength, a different type of power that’s necessary for bringing us together. Do I have up lifting words to share? Food to share? A favor that can be done for a friend?
This doesn’t mean that I’ve become clueless or am ignoring the seriousness of what’s going on in our country. Being positive isn’t sticking your head in the sand. So what then? Is it as simple as setting an intention to extend goodwill, to treat anyone at the grocery store – my one outing a week – with respect and kindness? Does it make a difference to thank those people that I talk to on the phone or on Zoom? I believe that when I treat people well, they in turn treat others well.
The angry, blaming, indignant rhetoric of Washington is something that I wish I could dial down. I want to scream at those people – “Do the right thing, so it’s not that I don’t understand the desire to yell: “Follow your moral compass.” But yelling at television news only makes me feel worse. So, I chew on it. I pray about it and I adhere to the small gestures of kindness that can have far reaching effects. Call out to a neighbor to ask how they’re doing and then wait for an answer. Listen. We all need to be seen and heard. The walks through my neighborhood are life-savers for me. Everyone is eager for a chance to relate in some good way to another, to connect to their own sense of goodness. This is what I tell myself.
I probably sound like Pollyanna but if you’ll recall, the way that the Pollyanna story ends, is that her commitment to be a force for good has a positive and profound impact on her community. She brings about change. Besides, I have to feel that I can do something, that I can shine a light, that I can comfort, that I can makes someone feel that I’ve seen them and that they matter. I cling to the belief that my efforts may inspire better angels, everywhere.
And this frame of mind is what I struggle with in myself as I’m pulled back and forth between a world that is out of control and a world where the light of truth, hope and goodness shine upon us every day, just asking to be felt.