So I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days now, often while ‘slightly’ under the influence, and I’m still not quite sure how to put it, but here goes. I’ve been working and volunteering in mental health type jobs for 4 years. I have spoken with many distressed and suicidal people. I have spoken with many people who’s experience of being a human is radically different to mine. The one thing I have learned is this: Empathy, kindness, the ability to listen well – These are super powers. The kind that cause a slow, incremental, healing kind of change (rather than something save-the-day glamorous like flying), but super powers no less. And the best thing about these particular super powers is that the more you use them, the more you practice them, the stronger and better they get.
This year has felt like a pretty grotty year to me. We have seen frankly irresponsible politicians using frightening and racist rhetoric to get their own way. And they have been pretty effective in this, leaving countries, families, and friends divided. It has been pretty awful to see them speak to the very worst in our natures, and to see people respond positively to that. But I am actually quite hopeful. I feel like this is a backlash against all that is progressive, and liberal, and tolerant, and kind. The backlash has been so petty and vitriolic and aggressive, so peppered with petulant language and poorly thought through arguments, that I actually think these guys are running scared. But scared people, especially scared rich people, can be destructive indeed. I see it as a direct challenge to all of us who practice daily the arts of compassion and kindness and understanding.
It’s Christmas Day as I write this. Traditionally a time, symbolically, of love and respect for our fellow humans. It is a time to reflect on the year gone past, and to think about how we will act in the year going forwards. Those of us who believe in all of this lefty woolly kindness and understanding have to step up to really walk the walk in 2017. Now is our time. It may feel like the best thing to do is hide under a rock somewhere until all the nastiness is over but that too would be irresponsible. In my life time it has never felt more important to stand up and speak out against hate and racism and misogyny. There are lots of tired, frightened people around. If we duck out of this now there will be many more. We need to talk with each other, be kind to each other, understand each other. As a people, a community, it is in our power to heal the mess these politicians have left.
Now is our time people. Go forth, listen, and be kind.