The Power of Kindness
The Power of Kindness in a Broken World
This morning before anyone else had awoken, I sat down to enjoy my first meal back home. Taking a sip of tea from my favorite teal ceramic cup, I surveyed the dining room table to find a stack of newspapers that had accumulated unread in my absence. I picked up a particular paper whose headline caught my attention, 'It makes me feel strong.' As my eyes scanned the July 1st issue of the Seattle Times, I read about eight-year-old Frannie Ronan, the youngest competitor in this year's Special Olympics USA games. Frannie is a gymnast, and she also has Down Syndrome. I read about her excitement for the games and her love of performing. Frannie's joy translated beautifully through the pages. Moving to the next article, I read Timothy Shriver's interview. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, his mother, founded the Special Olympics in 1962. He grew up in the organization, and saw how much it meant to so many people. However, there was something very particular that he said which caught my attention.
"I think both sides of the political spectrum are shaped with vitriol, we do 'other' as a verb. It's everywhere. We live in a bullying culture, where politicians thrive on 'othering' their opponent. There's a great incentive to continue to fight." - Timothy ShriverThose words sparked a thought in my mind, one that I have been rolling over for a couple weeks now. We live in a society that thrives on tearing other people down in order to build ourselves up. Fight fire with fire. Retaliate with cruel words aimed at belittling a person's worth. It is something I have personally experienced and I am sure many others have as well. We make no headway in positive change because we as Americans we are stuck in a brutal gridlock of hatred and fear. I feel that this is a topic which needs to be discussed this Fourth Of July season. Our nation is hurting, and it is time we took some steps to fix it.
It is easier to converse with a friend than an enemy. How will we ever effect change in our world if we cannot talk respectfully amongst ourselves? It seems that in this time in our history, there is more of a push to 'win' than to actually come to a solution. Empathy is one of the most powerful tools that we have been given. As humans, we have the power to use our hearts and minds to look through new perspectives. The best way to understand what makes someone feel a certain way is to place yourself in their shoes. Try and see WHY a someone holds a particular opinion. The best way to see new perspectives is to talk to people. Talk to people who do not agree with you. Talk to someone from a different country. Talk to someone you've never met before. Some of the best discussions I have had in the Youth Senate happened because we came together hand in hand, despite our differences, to fight against injustice. All of us want to make a better future. All of us want to preserve the planet. All of us want peace. There are so many perspectives on any given issue and the best way to envision a positive solution is to attack a problem from multiple angles.
"We're in Seattle because we are taking a stand for inclusion, for the knowledge that everyone has a gift, and we are better when we celebrate each other's gifts than when we demonize each other's differences. It is not Republican or Democrat, but it's human. We are not partisan, but we are oriented to the heart of America now, and that is what we are trying to elevate and celebrate." - Timothy ShriverWe are all unique individuals with gifts, flaws, talents and stories. All those things are what make us able to create amazing things. We are meant to work together, with each person bringing something special to the table. Celebrate what makes each person special and crucial to our society. Kindness is a tool by which we will heal this nation. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone this week, and take a look through someone else's perspective. Be kind to one another, and you will learn so much along the way.