October 2, 2017

Be Kind Anyway

I struggle with all the bad news clogging up my social media feed. Sometimes I tell myself I'm going to delete it all, become a recluse, and shield my children from all the hate and hurt, but I know that's not a sensible solution. Ignoring the problems doesn't make them go away, and being ignorant of the issues won't change anything.

People are often cynical these days, immediately judging the intentions of others. I have been guilty of this countless times. I have seen a homeless man on the side of the road begging for money and instantly assumed he was going to use any money he received to buy drugs. I have slowly come to realize (and still have to occasionally correct my thinking) that it doesn't matter what they do with the money I give them. I can't control their decision. I can, however, control my decision to serve. The blessings that come from service are not lessened because the benefactor makes a poor choice. The same goes for accepting people of all races and backgrounds. I will not let the decisions of one person influence my opinion of those from similar cultures. I will not turn my back on a group of people because of one thing someone else does. I will not treat someone differently simply because our beliefs might not align. I will not judge, I will not assume intent, and I will serve anyway.

Something I'm continuously working on is my empathy towards others. Since becoming a mom my empathy has improved some, maybe too well at times (because #hormones). I cry when I hear about the suffering of others. I pray daily that the hurt so many are suffering will be taken away or lessened in some way. I feel despair when viewing videos or reading articles about the many problems in the world. Five million Syrians are refugees and 6.3 million are still displaced within Syria - half of those are beautiful, innocent children. There are 20 million people facing severe food shortages in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Hate crimes are on the rise in America. Nearly 600,000 people are homeless on any given night in the U.S. I could go on and on, but the point is this: there is no shortage of suffering. Empathy is the biggest motivator of change in my opinion, and something the world could use more of. Unfortunately, the world is not going to gain a collective empathetic state of mind over night. I know I can’t even begin to solve all those problems, but I will try to put myself in others’ shoes, I will imagine how I would feel if those faces were my own children, and I will care about others anyway.

I used to be afraid of what others would think about my political opinions, personal convictions, beliefs, etc. I'm slowly becoming braver when it comes to sharing what I feel is important (case-in-point: this blog post). One of those opinions that I've gained a stronger conviction for since having a daughter is feminism. I used to believe that "feminist" was a dirty word. Many people associate feminism with abortion-loving, career women who want to imprison all men underground. That's simply not true. Feminism is simply the advocacy of women's rights. Do you believe that every girl deserves an education? Congrats, you're a feminist! Do you think the act of genital mutilation should be done away with? That would make you a feminist. Do you want young girls to have confidence and believe that they can change the world? Yep, you're a feminist. Do you want your daughter to have the same opportunities as her male counterparts? You better believe you're a feminist. I could list a million more scenarios, but I'm sure you get the gist. Even if you personally feel like you have the same rights as the men around you, that doesn't mean the work of feminism is done. It's not done until young girls and women around the world hold the same rights - politically, socially, and economically. Women have remarkable power, and I believe that this world and those that live here will not reach their full potential until women everywhere are given the same respect and consideration as men are given. Even though others may not agree with my beliefs, I will stand up and voice them anyway. 

I'm pretty sure nothing I am able to do will make a big impact on the problems the world is facing. I'm just one person, a quiet and reserved person at that. I have a desire to influence change, but "leader" is not a word I would use to describe myself. So I've learned to research the issues, form my opinions, try to share what I know with those in my immediate circle of influence, and donate to charities I am confident in. It's not much, but hopefully my tiny contribution will create ripples. Maybe someone I share ideas with is a more ambitious trailblazer that can create community change. Perhaps my small contributions to a charity will get them closer to their goal. Then again, maybe I won't do that much to affect others and that's okay too. I will be affected by my own efforts and I will be changed into a better person. I will be blessed by doing my (very small) part. Even if I change nothing, I've decided to work hard anyway.

There will never be a solution that fixes all the problems the world is facing. There will always be racism, bigotry, hate, and hurt. I doubt very much that I will see "world peace" in my lifetime. I've decided to be kind anyway.

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