Very often, when I see cruelty, whether it's on the news, online, in person, in my life or in the lives of others, I think "Why can't we just be kind?". Whether it's violent, rude, subtle or passive: "Why can't we just be kind?". It seems like such a simple principle to live by, but at the same time I feel naïve whenever I think it. I feel even more naïve when I say it out loud. In the strange, frustrating and scary times we currently live in, I've found myself thinking about kindness and what it means to me.
We're seeing the best of people and we're seeing the worst of people. We are seeing wisdom and ignorance, cruelty and kindness. I'm seeing the best in myself and the worst in myself. I used to think that as long as I acted with kindness, everything would be fine, but what I forgot to do was define "kindness". The result of this thinking is more often than not that I fail to live up to my own expectations, whatever they are, because I never actually defined them, and I fall down that emotional black hole I know so well.
Lately, I've realised that what I've been acting on is quiet, outward kindness. I've tried to stay out of the way and to people please. I rarely raised my voice. My opinions remained my own and my views remained my own, and to an extent that's fine, but I sit here now, feeling I took it too far. Because what I've realised is that I am much happier when I step into a louder type of kindness. A louder more authentic voice. And when I turn my kindness inward.
It is not kind for me to sit in my privilege and feel heartbroken for the world. And it certainly is not enough. Movements are made up of individuals. If everyone thought like I used to and stayed out of the way, there would just be silence. And emptiness. And standstill. I'm not saying that everyone should scream if they don't feel that's right for them. What I'm saying is that silence didn't work for me. And I think there are a lot of people like me, who stay quiet and out of the way, mainly out of fear.
I was speaking to a friend this past week about our shared fear of being loud and vocal. Most of the time I feel like I'm lacking in information and that's a reason not to speak up about something. But isn't it then up to me to educate myself? Like so many have posted over the last wee while, it's not enough to not be racist, we need to be anti-racist. Silence is violence and me staying out of the way and being quiet isn't helping.
I'm a white, able-bodied, bi cis woman and only recently have I become clearly aware of my privilege. And I know I can never fully understand what it's like to be unsafe in a world where so many people are prone to be cruel to you because of what you look like. To be unsafe in the world. Sometimes we don't need to understand, often because we simply can't understand. Sometimes we need to listen, to educate ourselves and to raise the voices of others.
I have been terrified of my own voice. I've been scared to raise it, to show up and to be loud. I suppose starting this blog was the start of stepping out of quietness. It was the first step out of fear and into something I wanted. I'm new to using my voice, so I'm working on me. I'm educating myself more actively and I've started being more unapologetic and I'm learning how to be inwardly kind. My hope is that I can live in the world as loudly kind and fearless and from there play my small, but fierce, part in changing the world.