As we come upon the anniversary of the game changing Women’s March, I am in awe of what transpired over the last year. The most curious thing of all is what I found so despicable about our elected leader of the free world was, in fact, a very odd blessing. Light was cast on the dark shadows lurking around for so long. Not all my friends might agree with me or hold similar views, but it’s quite hard to ignore what happened over the year. #MeToo, #TimesUp, and Oprah’s amazing speech at the Golden Globes.
The times they are a-changin’.
One year ago my husband and I marched in Boston. It was nothing short of transformative. First, that my man went with me (he got into designing posters and he even gave one away to a mother and her kid on the subway so she’d have something). Second, that we became part of a peaceful tribe 175,000 strong, forming a “radical kinship” as Father Greg Boyle likes to say. Third, that we took tons of selfies together and sent them to our daughters—not only so they can confirm how their “awkward” parents are, but to see their core values in action (and what a good guy is all about).
I still have our posters in the family room and will dust them off this weekend. I didn’t get my hand-knitted pussy hat in time for last year’s march, but that hat has not seen the dust. I still wear it—and I will as long as it’s cold outside and this president is in office.
It’s not a time to be complacent. It’s a time to address the dark side with a legion of light workers. It’s not a comfortable time and nor should it be. We need to feel irritated enough to take action. The other day I was clearing my office and out of a book fell a prayer card my mother had given one of my girls: Joan of Ark. How apt! The Novena begins: “Glorious St. Joan of Arc, filled with compassion for those who invoke you, with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles I kneel at your feet and humbly beg you to take my present need under your special protection.” The image on the front is of the armoured French girl of the 1400s, a spiritual warrior across the ages, holding her flag and sounding the call for compassion, social justice and new leadership. I believe Joan of Arc is at our sides protecting us and emboldening us right now, but mostly we have each other. Saints, angels, whistle blowers, courageous women and men… and those contrarian naysayers, too. We all belong. And we all need to evolve humanity. We can do better.
Be a kindness warrior.
My protest sign last year was on kindness. It’s been my calling and so I’ve been studying it, collecting science and story. The basis for my upcoming book has been the view that kindness is strong, not weak. It is courageous, not cowardly. It is heartful, not heartless. It’s not about being nice, agreeable, or virtuous. It’s about understanding, having boundaries, and taking reasonable action. It’s moving from empathic distress to motivational empathy. Taking a kind stance doesn’t mean giving in. One of the protest slogans seen all over the world last year was: “Feel the Rage, Be the Love.” These six small words perfectly capture both the challenge and the solution when facing difficult persons, places, or things. The meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg asks, “Why can’t we both love and resist at the same time?” This is a perfect question for our life and our times, and it forms the basis for reimagining kindness.
We all have something to stand for. For me it’s giving kindness the gravitas it deserves in the landscape of humanity. After all, we can’t survive without it. I invite you to join me. How are you going to rock your world with kindness?