It feels as if we have been living through the 2020 Presidential Election since 2016. This never-ending campaign of posturing toward self-righteousness from both sides of the aisle has been in a word: exhausting.
One of my favorite musicians, John Mayer, has a song called “Belief” on his 2006 album Continuum. In it he wrote, “Everyone believes in how they think it ought to be and no one is going easily. We’re never going to win the world. We’re never going to stop the war. We’re never going to beat this if belief is what we’re fighting for.” In 2006, the nation was engulfed in two wars and Hurricane Katrina had just ripped the Band-Aid off of the ugliest part of ourselves that so easily discards the poor & Black.
That tension feels like levity compared to what we’re facing now. Migrant children sit in cages at the southern border separated from their parents. Veterans wander the streets homeless and traumatized after fighting in those aforementioned wars. Unarmed Black people are killed on an almost weekly basis by fearful white people– both in and out of uniform. Poor white people in Main Street USA have seen their communities decimated by corporate greed and opioid addiction. Underground hate groups are encouraging members to arm themselves and get ready for an all-out civil war if the incumbent is not re-elected for president. The problems seems insurmountable, but they truth is that they are not.
We can only tackle the big issues such as climate change, healthcare reform and educational equity once we address the smallest one: The Urgent Need for Kindness.
Kindness is never wasted and it is in each of us to do. It is not dependent upon election outcomes and other political decisions. Kindness is a decision each of us makes from moment to moment. We can always to choose to extend grace and kindness to someone, even if they do not extend it to us. Kindness is a soft, but loud way of acknowledging humanistic value.
Most of us can agree on the problems and the solutions, but we disagree on the pathway to get to the solutions. Kindness is a tool that will allow us to keep our desire to solve the problem a higher priority than our ego’s desire to be right about the solution. Who cares how you solve homelessness if it leads to everyone having a safe and comfortable home without damaging the environment? We must be more committed to peace than we are to having our way.
Election day is on Tuesday, Nov. 3 and the anxiety among people is palpable. You can see it in the way people look at each other in the gas station and the grocery store. There’s a ferocity, a readiness for conflict. Rumors of a purge and a civil war have been circulating for months. I encourage everyone to put it down and instead pickup kindness.
People helping people is the only way anything gets done. After you cast your vote, figure out who it is that you can help. One of my favorite quotes is, “How can I match my intrinsic talents with one of the world’s deep needs?”
As a writer, I mentor young journalists and help them find their voices, with the hope that those voices will inspire hope in others. I tell stories about people in overlooked communities. I donate money to support arts education. I speak to high school and college students about finding their path in a pathless industry. I’m currently working on a project with a good friend that we dreamt up for the sole purpose of employing artists and inspiring hope in people. And, most importantly, I am kind. That is how I give back.
How will you commit to kindness?