Americans seem to be caught up, via our current government, in a maelstrom of unkindness. And unfortunately our resistance efforts, our shouts and complaints, do not seem to have much power against the declarations of a president intent on voter suppression, denial of asylum to refugees and immigrants, defense of bigotry, reduction of medical care to the poor and disabled, and unjust expulsion of non-citizens who work hard and pay taxes. Somehow our resistance falters in the face of this governmental machine churning out cruelty with apparent ease.
So, here is what I propose we do: implement a new form of resistance by countering every mean-spirited directive from the White House with as many small acts of kindness as we can muster, so that those acts become the center of our lives, rather than the madness emanating from the Oval Office. For each report of intolerance or malice, let’s resist by going out of our way to perform kindly actions, demonstrating that goodness still rules in our country, that most people are capable of charity and love.
Every time you hear a report of or come across mean-spirited behavior, do something to counteract it. First, speak out against that behavior on the spot. After that, pile up a raft of daily acts of kindness--send a get well card to someone you barely know, call a friend who may be lonely, thank a congressman who espouses your values, write a check to a charity (victims of Hurricane Harvey need our help), volunteer at a soup kitchen; contribute clothes and household items to Goodwill, Big Brothers, or Vietnam Veterans of America; send an unexpected gift to a relative, cook a special meal for your spouse, pay the toll for the car behind you, tip the kids working at the ice cream stand; if you are fortunate enough to have such people in your life, speak kindly to and generously thank the landscapers and cleaning people who work so hard to keep your life orderly; let someone--anyone--know how much you appreciate having that person in your life. And don’t forget to graciously thank anyone who offers a kindness to you!
Can we erase bigotry and injustice by doing these things? Of course not. But what we can do is flood our little corners of the world with kindness, espousing values of fairness, tolerance, and generosity that America has always been known for. That sort of resistance, if done on a massive scale, could be the most powerful of all.