I cannot un-see it.
Those who constantly "share" their anger - as a rallying cry to incite action, are not engaging me. They are pushing me away. All the petitions I receive now go to a junk folder. I am so inundated that I have lost sensitivity. I don't want to be on Facebook at all in this political climate, but it is my only link to some people about whom I care deeply. It is quite the trade-off.
I have a Twitter account because it is far and away the best resource for my chosen profession. Crowd-sourcing and sharing information, for the education industry, have been phenomenally successful. Today a contact sent a tweet that many people are abandoning their accounts because of the increasing negativity. I understand. It is so easy to vent frustrations via computer. I do not share my opinions via social media, but I am in the <1%, apparently, who doesn't.
It is my belief that where we are individually and as a nation is driven by economics. I could cite scholarly articles, but there is no need. Our current state of cultural and societal disintegration is tied to the most basic of the Maslowian hierarchy. How do we move past protecting our personal commodities and begin sharing with those who have less?
One kindness at a time.
Admit that no matter how stressful our day to day might be - we have more than we need. Anyone with a home, food, car, computer and high speed connection has no business thinking they are suffering. Most of us have health issues. Many have financial struggles. But no one reading this post is destitute. How can you make a difference?
Choose one task a day that helps someone else. No one is going to judge what that task should be. You know best what you are able to do. But do it.
The funny thing about sharing is that the more you do it, the more you end up with.
When I read Karen's tweet, shown here with her permission, my mind made an interesting leap back 45 years. For some reason, when I saw the word kindness, I immediately placed myself in a moment I had all but forgotten in my history. My public elementary school had a "Holiday Concert" each year before winter break. The population was mixed Judeo-Christian, but the teachers were predominately Christian. To appease the families, the chorus, of which I was a member, sang many Christmas standards as well as Dreidle, Dreidle, Dreidle to satisfy the Jewish families. I remember having to learn Children Go Where I Send Thee as a solo with the chorus singing "Born, born, oh, born in Bethlehem!" At the time, I didn't think much about the fact that I am Jewish, singing this song that is about Jesus. I just enjoyed singing. I know, however, that many of the audience members were stirred by these holiday renditions of their religious beliefs. It brought smiles to their faces.
Another song in which I had a solo had a profound emotional impact on me, a sensitive, sheltered 10-year-old. Perhaps it is the beautiful harmonics, or the simple message. Regardless, I hear and see the daily tragedies, and think of the moment in the cafeteria when I could hear a pin drop. The lights were out, and one lone spot shone on my face. As the song progressed, more and more students joined me, and the light grew to include them. I cannot listen to it without becoming teary-eyed. I certainly would not be able to sing it now without crying. Ten-year-old me had no idea just how powerful the message is.
To those who are frustrated, angry, defeated, take a deep breath before sharing your feelings. Use that energy for good, not for power. The power of kindness will overcome, if we let it, the tide of negativity. As Shabbat descends, enveloping us in a moment of beauty, I choose to let time unfurl slowly. I choose the path of acceptance. I choose the path of caring. It IS a choice.
I will try my hardest to document my daily acts of giving back. I will walk the talk. I hope you will see this, not as a "call to action," but as an example of how a small ripple can turn the tide. Perhaps we can create a hashtag that focuses not on who matters - because EVERY LIFE MATTERS, but on how to show that every life matters. There will be no change without individual, one-to-one interactions.
I choose now to share the song that is on endless repeat in my head, from 45 years ago. I choose the Harlem Boys Choir's version because...it is beautiful. Period. Let it begin with me.