I’m a Texas girl. I grew up swimming in bluebonnets and sipping sun tea and trying to whistle a tune on a piece of Saint Augustine grass. I’d sit on the porch and watch the ants race in neat little lines, and life was a string of hot summer days and sweltering nights. We’d go tubing down the Guadalupe and listen to the cicadas screech and rise each morning with the thought that life was good and holy. Now that I’m all grown up I eat buttered biscuits with blueberry jam and I dig beef that’s charred around the edges. I somehow know words to George Strait songs. And I still arise every morning with a renewed hope that life is beautiful. And yet I live in a strange world, where people can’t take people anymore.
It is becoming clear to me that this natural optimism is the result of my own rose-colored brain and not really how the world works. After all – I don’t have cable and I generally avoid all that nasty division. But there’s an undercurrent sweeping across our great nation like a flood that’s too great to ignore, and it’s making me uncomfortable. And scared for the generations below us and for the world we live in. And downright fed up. We let ourselves get to this point. We let ourselves be so ugly to each other. Simply put, we have lost the ability to be kind.
I say we need a REVOLUTION.
We don’t need a preacher or talk-show host yelling. We need a true reforming of our human consciousness so that we can actually communicate with each other about gun deaths or homelessness. Community health, foreign policy, war, and sexual violence. We need to be able to say “I dislike the President because of his position on certain issues” or “I really do like the President because I believe in his position on certain issues” and then we all meet for coffee at Jo’s and think it’s okay that you wear red / I wear blue because we are not all robots for crying out loud. Jesus said that of all things giddy and awesome, mostly it was about faith and hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.
And love, my friends, is wrapped up in kindness. But how are we to be kind to each other if it’s not taught? If it is not a value that is held in high regard in our society? How can we expect our children to know how to do it, for crying out loud, when we all act like raging idiots? Because it’s simply not natural to reach out when it’s hard, and love when it’s not easy, and show consideration in all things. It throws our instincts upon their head. And yet it’s the charge Jesus laid down. Hence, a revolution.
A sample facebook post, for illustrative purposes only:
We need to arm teachers and get our damn kids out of these broken homes run by ragged moms and gay couples and it’s only by reforming our society and getting Hitler out of office that we can truly see a change in our schools and I say every teacher in America needs a concealed weapon.
Now you have several choices, depending on your beliefs. You can: (1) Say “Bravo! You should run for Congress!”; (2) unfriend this person immediately; (2) comment on their post with hateful words you’d not say around your own grandmother; (3) or respond with love. “But why?” you ask. “Why would I dignify their comment with something loving and kind when I felt it was offensive and hateful?” This is what I’m talking about. It’s not just saying you’re going to be kind. It’s not just about reading this blog and moving on about your merry life. It’s actually doing it that matters. And to join a revolution means taking drastic measures. That never mean agreeing or capitulating regarding what you believe is wrong. It just means being warmhearted and considerate and humane. Always. Regardless. Period.
It’s a revolutionary concept to look into the eyes of someone and say simply, “I don’t agree with you. But I love you. And I respect you as a human being on this earth.” You can’t change people’s minds. You can’t carry on an intelligent debate with good solid points because most people have grown too divisive to look at both sides. But you can say to this person, some random bloke from high school that lives in your hometown, that he’s clearly passionate (as we all should be) about protecting our beautiful, troubled, and innocent children. And as a country we’ve got to figure this thing out. That’s what we are all after, isn’t it? And you don’t agree with his position at all, and think his comments about single mothers and a couple’s sexual orientation and the president were confusing to the issue at hand, and you also don’t believe arming teachers is the answer. But you know what? Despite the vast differences in opinion, you appreciate him sharing his thoughts, and challenge him to think just a little outside his own box to try and find a solution. We are going to disagree, but maybe we can all find common ground. We are Americans. We all want to keep our children safe.
That’s hard. Because it’s not often met with open arms. It’s often met with some snide response or more of the same. Or you’re labeled something and called something and all that kindness for nothing. And you want to say “what a putz, man. I was being so nice.”
Do it anyway. Keep doing it when your face is slapped. Keep doing it when it’s not met with welcomed smiles. Because it’s not about getting positive feedback. It’s about challenging the established norms that we should yell at each other. And hide behind an internet screen so we can be nasty. It’s about putting kindness front and center, as in “I will not respond with hate because I love you as a brother or sister and I will be here, regardless. I’m not going to unfriend you. You are worthy of respect and although we have vast differences I’ll continue to treat you as I would want to be treated.”
Are you with me? Can we just make small changes in our immediate world, and try to react to hate with love? We cannot put combination locks on every gun in this country. We cannot ban television or transform people’s minds overnight. But we can be KIND. It starts here. Now. With you, and me, and your Aunt Gracie in Wisconsin.
Soon it will catch on like wildfire, and we will all learn to be respectful, and we’ll try and teach our kids to do the same, and maybe – just maybe – there will be hope for our future generations. And they won’t kill each other in schools anymore but will go back to playing in the sandbox. There will be less bullying and more kindness shown to the aching. And our beautiful children will sit around on boring summer days watching ants crawl in straight little lines and hum country songs. This is our goal – that we go back to a simpler and more loving place.
We simply don’t have the luxury to ignore Jesus anymore.