AND Also Bring Kindness

August 6th, 2017

I have been thinking recently about what is required to be true to oneself AND live in diverse communities. In a world where anger and blame are levied at those who disagree or say “no” to something another wants, we will need to be clear and at peace with where we want to focus our energy. Being willing to take a stand for those values or beliefs we hold AND accepting that others do not see or experience the world the same way can be a challenge.

What strikes me is that with clarity of intention about who we want to be in the world, a commitment to being the best version of ourselves that we know how to be, and an ability to accept what is, the three things we will need are voice, acceptance, AND kindness. Voice is about standing for who we are and what is important to us, sometimes confronting others who violate those values, and sometimes engaging in uncomfortable conversations so that we are true to what we value. Courage may be required. Clarity certainly is.

AND detaching from how others respond allows us to not internalize or personalize their reaction. That willingness to speak up and be detached from how others judge us for doing so is what allows us to be at peace within ourselves. When at peace, we don’t respond to anger with anger. We accept that others are not in the same place and we remember, as Maya Angelou used to say, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

At the same time, compassion is a critical part of the voice-and-acceptance equation. We are all humans doing the best we can with what we have in any given moment. We will encounter behaviors and responses that are absolutely unacceptable to us. It’s not about swallowing our voice or feeding the anger and insults.

It is about being true to ourselves and creating the space for others to do the same by responding with kindness. Sometimes that means saying nothing more when what has needed to be said has been said. Sometimes, it means acknowledging that we disagree or see things differently.

St, Augustine is credited with having said something to the effect of “In essentials there shall be unity, in non-essentials freedom, and in all things charity.” Our voices matter. Our willingness to let go when we have said our piece or taken the action we feel is true to our values, means accepting that others may respond (within the law) as they do. AND responding from an open heart with kindness can help diffuse difficult or painful situations, while feeding the peace within us.

When we bring kindness, we bring light. AND we all benefit from more light.

Comments are closed.