I am hearing a lot about kindness: about how in these divisive times we must love each other.
Oh, how I agree.
But let us be clear.
If someone is being kicked on the playground, kindness does not just stand and watch.
When someone is on fire, kindness doesn’t meditate on the healing vibration of a bucket of water.
It is not kindness to politely ignore that your friend’s face is bruised again.
Nor is it kindness to set cars on fire, no matter how angry you are.
When they handed out yellow stars, did true kindness lie in trying to understand the Reich’s good side?
Kindness stands up to bullies.
Kindness helps those in danger.
Kindness builds underground railroads and safe houses and laws that protect our most vulnerable citizens.
Kindness is not the same as niceness.
I have been told a lot in the past few days that I am not being very kind. I am hurting people’s feelings and not making them feel very safe by implying that our President-elect signals a shift toward a more dangerous America.
They want me to rise above.
To focus on the positive.
To stop talking about politics.
As I was writing this, I got a text from a beloved woman. It said, “People I love are telling me I just need to get over my politics and disagreements and love people. They are making me feel petty and silly. I feel so raw and afraid.”
You are not petty and silly.
You are paying attention to history and you have noticed that the most powerful person in our country has publicly stated that you are not worthy of dignified treatment, and you have every right to be afraid.
For 90 seconds.
Let the fear flood you. Breathe through it. Let the adrenaline and cortisol rush through you. They are a signal to pay attention. IT IS NOT PETTY AND SILLY TO PAY ATTENTION.
So feel the fear. And then ask yourself, “In light of the fact that I feel really scared and really alone, but I also notice that right at this moment I am not in any physical danger, who do I want to be today?”
And decide who you want to be. Take one action that makes you look, sound, feel, or behave a little more like that person you want to be.
I know you wise women. You are going to decide to be advocates, diplomats, healers, and helpers. You are going to stand up with true and fierce kindness for those who cannot stand up for themselves. You will do it in your homes, your offices, your parking lots, your churches.
And you will do it inside yourselves, too.
We have a lot of people in this tribe who have survived assault and trauma. I know that for many of you, the spectre of an authoritarian racist or rapist who has been publicly condoned, while your pain is dismissed, is unbelievably painful. You are triggered and shattered in a way you haven’t felt for years. I know, dear one. I know. So listen very carefully to me. If you are having panic attacks, now is not the time to fight. If you can hardly breathe, just focus on breathing for now. Your fierce kindness must start inside yourself. You must be able to make a safe space inside yourself for you before you can make one for anyone else. (If you are in anguish and don’t have a therapist or coach to call on, I suggest you begin by downloading this powerful healing meditation by Belleruth Naparstak. It is $12, and it has been very helpful to me over the years. If you cannot afford the $12, email me and I will buy it for you.)
If you are the walking wounded right now, your most important job is to heal. We are going to make that space for you. Sometimes true kindness is saying “I just can’t be brave today; I need to lie here quietly until I am a little stronger.” So take some time. The rest of us, we’ve got your back. We know you’ll step back in when you can.
And the rest of us? We might feel scared, but we also know that we are okay right now. We can get big enough to be brave even when we’re scared.
Because we are epic fucking badass love warriors. We tell the truth– many of us are terrified for our beloveds, justifiably so– and we DO NOT QUIT.
We will be kind and brave.
We will stand up for people who are more vulnerable than we are.
We will have our feelings, but have them in a way that is safe.
We will breathe fire– in, out– instead of setting things on fire.
We will take appropriate measure to protect our beloveds, and if we are not ourselves in danger, which remember, MOST of us are not, right at this moment, we will look around with fierce and kind eyes and see what we can do right now that would be helpful.
When someone tells you to stop being silly and petty, smile kindly and say, “I am neither of those things. I am trying to be as kind as I can in very difficult circumstances.”
And remember, being kind and being nice are not the same thing.