A journalist who I didn’t know but whose life was tragically taken; someone’s fiancé who cries out for justice in an unjust country; 11 people of a religious faith different than mine suffering from crimes of hate — these are people who are on my mind lately.
When did the world became so nasty, so crude and so selfish? When did we become so numb to the the darkness and the pain? This is not the world I want my kids to grow up in.
Recently, even in my daily life, I see more and more of the worst in human nature and wonder, where has the kindness gone? Have we lost all that is good and decent in our lives? Are we scared for our own well-being, worried that someone is trying to rip us off or will hate us for our religion, race or for some other reason? Why all the rage? What happened with “please”, “thank you”, and “have a good day”?
I know all about anger, frustration, rage and all the nasty feelings many of you keep inside. Just because I’m Ecuadorian and live in a city where I’ve spent my entire life doesn’t mean I haven’t been robbed, ripped off or spoken to harshly. I also know the difficulties of daily life. I know the feeling of needing to work 10 or more hours a day to give my family the best I can provide. I’ve cried in my car, going to and coming from work because I was exhausted. I see people running from a destroyed country begging for food and work — it’s so heartbreaking I can barely stand to think about it.
The anger happens with the smallest and dumbest things. Like when I’m driving and some other car in the opposite lane tries to turns in front of me. I won’t yield and I think: “You stupid person, why don’t you respect your turn and have the patience to drive properly. I’m going to teach you a lesson.” Then, when I get home I regret my anger. What if he was in a hurry because he had an emergency? Even if he was just an asshole, assholes sometimes deserve kindness too.
I have heard the story a couple of times about Gandhi losing his shoe as he got on a train and then throwing the other shoe out the window. His explanation: “Someone will need this one too to have a pair.”
Why can’t we be more like that? I understand it doesn’t apply in all cases. If you get robbed, of course you are not going to invite the thief to your home. We need to be kind without being dumb.
Because of the injustice we experience in our own lives, we carry the anger with us and sometimes spread it like fire. You think you are tough because you yelled at a cashier? Or a guard? No you’re not. You are spreading anger because when the person you yell at gets home, she or he will pass the anger on to their families. So let’s stop the vicious cycle.
It’s okay to have a bad day — we all have one from time to time. Some days are hard. Life is hard. Feeling beaten up by unkind words from your boss, being sucked into the cold, uncaring corporate world is something I’ve been fighting for years and to be honest, it pisses me off to the point that some days I want to stand up and yell: Enough! Stop! And I wonder, “What can a small country woman like me do against all the nastiness in the world?” I’m not famous, I’m not wealthy. I’m me. Roxi. A mother, wife, a Christian, a dreamer, but I am fearless when I want to.
So I decided to start fighting all the unkindness I run into. I invite you to join me. If you see someone who is sad or upset, offer a word of kindness. If your efforts are not appreciated, don’t get discourage. Continue to spread kindness.
Smile, say “hi,” and laugh. Seek out and practice the things that make you happy. It’s not easy. I have found my peaceful place in my hobbies of knitting, sewing and cross stitching. What are yours? Once you have found this satisfaction and happiness, you are ready to help others. Let’s do it together.
I am tired of feeling hopeless and helpless. I’m here and if you are reading this and you feel sad or angry, write me. I might be younger than you and don’t know your problems, but I can be your friend. If you are angry and you hate everything about Ecuador, write me. I’ll will teach you why I love my country. If you are sick, write me. I’ll be there with some soup (not great soup but it’s acceptable) and I will try to make sure that you don’t get discouraged. If you are alone. Write me. We can hang out and do something together.
If you see people (I don’t see nationalities, I just see people) hungry or in the cold and the rain, write me. Let’s find some coats and some food for them. I’m not rich. I make enough to pay the bills but we can cook something and neither you nor I will become impoverished for doing it.
Of course, if you are being robbed or see someone being robbed, don’t write me. Call 911. But do something.
My point: I’m here to be kind and if you need kindness.
Wherever you go, spread kindness and help as much as you can. You don’t know how much this world needs you and your light. So let’s be kind to each other. I will not shove that kindness down your throat, I promise, but I will be persistent; this human being is here for you and for others.
Roxi Guerrero is a life-long Cuencana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org