Tag Archives: kindness

What Must They Think of Us? The Perplexing Human Species.

28 Jul

galaxy_universe-normalThe past few weeks have given me a great deal to reflect upon: the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian separatists, the continued war between Hamas and Israel (apparently there are now at least over 1,000 civilian Palestinian lives lost), and the not so covert racism and homophobia here in the United States.  When I think about these events and activities in conjunction with the weight of other horrific moments in the world’s history, I am left wondering: What must any existing intelligent lifeforms in the universe be thinking of humans?

While I am not certain there exist other forms of intelligent life in the universe, I do think it is a bit arrogant to think humans are the only intelligent lifeforms.  Lately, I have been thinking how I would hate to be judged by  some of the awful actions of other humans.  I think about how we treat girls and women around the world; how we treat the LGBT community, and people of color. Every time a James Byrd, Jr. is killed, a Larry King is killed, we have painful reminders that only certain people are safe to navigate the world.

While humans have only occupied the earth for the tiniest fraction of time in the over five billion years the earth has existed, we have managed to wreak an amazing amount of destruction.  I can only imagine what one might think as an observer from far away.  I would hate to be painted with the same brush as  Chairman Mao and his agents of the “Cultural Revolution.” Nor would I care to be thought of alongside the triumvirate of Hitler, Stalin, and Franco, or even the 21st Century’s collection of agents of hate and terror. Certainly there have been many wonderful people who tried to improve the world, but history shows us more bloodthirsty crusades than productive, peaceful assemblies.

I still would like to believe that there are more basically good people in the world than basically bad. Sadly, our systems are increasingly set up to let the greedy and jealous grab and hold power. Millions are oppressed and marginalized, unable to use their voices for anything other than basic survival. Millions more are exhausted by longer working hours and horrific commutes, and then we seem to only be able to find some salve by being anesthetized by television.

If we want those hypothetical viewers from distant stars to think kindly of us, we need to engage. My hope is we can take time everyday to reflect on how we work to create relationship with one another. How can we use kindness and generosity of heart? How can we use empathy?

When the dinosaurs — the last great “rulers of earth” — were wiped out, it was by a cataclysm that their basic brains and inability to use sophisticated tools left them unable to reverse or remediate. What will be our excuse?

 

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A Wonderfully Sweet Moment: Redeeming My Faith in Humanity

26 Apr

ChildrenSometimes I have to just grab hold of very sweet moments and treasure them, for they prove to be a salve for my misanthropic woes at times. I suspect many of us have moments when we experience kindness and generosity of heart from someone — this is a great privilege and I hope people cling to these moments and embrace them.

Thursday I was leaving Portland to go to Bend where I teach a graduate class a course called Social Justice. While in the airport in Portland, I went to buy a bottle of water. In this simple process, I somehow cut my finger. How? I have no idea. Sadly, I was bleeding quite a bit — more bothersome than anything else. Being on a blood thinner (Coumadin) makes me bleed more easily and it is then difficult to stop the bleeding. While trying to pay for the water, the cashier looked at me bluntly and said sternly: “You make sure you don’t bleed on the counter.” How rude of me to be bleeding at all!!!  I grabbed the water and went to the gate.

I had a bunch of napkins and was trying desperately to stop the bleeding, for I was now very embarrassed and the napkins were completely red.

Then, a young girl, I would guess four or five, approached me with a cherubic face and voice to match and with a look of concern asked: “Would you like one of my band-aids?”  She pulled out a band aid from her box and handed it to me. I said: “Thank you. Thank you very much. You are very kind.”  The band-aid was rainbow colored and I wondered how she knew I was gay and how appropriate for her to have picked a lovely and sensitive band aid.  She smiled and waited for me to put the band aid on my bleeding finger, knowing she could walk away with her new skill of saving fingers.

I must confess, this touched me in such a way that I started to cry and felt like I was melting. This kindness from this little girl warmed my heart so tremendously, I knew I had to treasure it.

As I was getting off the plane in Bend, I went to grab my bag from the overhead compartment and saw the little girl just three seats behind me. She looked at my bandaged finger and then looked at me. I winked at her and said thank you.  What a lovely little gift. I am so glad I have now recorded it.

May all of you enjoy some happiness today and everyday, in whatever fashion that kindness reveals itself to you. I am thinking of that little girl that made this old man very happy and listening to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s song On Children. I would like to think that if I had had a child, that child would have been as equally generous and kind.

Christmas Eve 2012: Feeling Grateful

24 Dec

pride-social-justice-progressiveWhile I am not a religious person, I am spiritual and find god in reading Walt Whitman, or watching the ocean during a winter storm, or witnessing the kindness in people I am fortunate enough to have in my life. Here on this Christmas Eve, I have been reflecting on how grateful I am for so many of the people in my life and the many kindnesses offered to me and accepted from me.

I am grateful that I have a life partner that travels with me on this, often times bizarre, wild journey called life.  I am exceedingly privileged that I have family, friends, and education.  It is a tremendous gift to be included in a network of folk that are social justice activists working for equality and equity for all.  I am grateful and privileged to have mentors who help guide me and encourage my growth as a social justice activist.

There is so much for me to be grateful for and there is also so much we all have yet to work for towards equality and ensuring people are treated with dignity and respect.  My wish list for things to happen within my lifetime is ambitious, but doable if we all act collectively for the rights of others — if we create a choir of voices for the rights of women, of the LGBT community, of all communities that are marginalized and stigmatized. We — all of us — must use our voices to eradicate racism and poverty, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and all of the intersections of oppression; this is my greatest wish.

It is difficult not to be in a reflective mood after Sandy Hook and the exceedingly idiotic remarks of Wayne LaPierre.  I think we would be far better off if we put a teacher in every gun store, rather than a gun in every school.  During this holiday season and in the wake of great tragedy, I hope everyone hears the words, “I love you” from a dear one, and that everyone exchanges a hug with someone.  May we all feel compelled to look for the goodness in others and to stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized.

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