A Kindness Manifesto To Start The Revolution.
“Fuck you with your world is so great message.”
I got that sentence in an email last week. Someone took issue with my writing and my Facebook page, and decided to let me know about it. Succinct and straight to the point, I respect that, but I respectfully disagree, so let’s get to the rebuttal, shall we?
(steps up on soapbox, clears throat)
First, that’s not my message. That’s not even close to my message. This is my message: Let’s make kindness cool and the world better than yesterday. We can improve, we can be more, and it’s easier if we try to help each other out, so let’s try to help each other out.
If the world is so great, would we have wars and hatred and genocide and rape and pollution and greed and slavery and racism? Probably not, but we do. We have terrible things in the world. We have evil deeds and and we have heartless people. We have work to do and we should start doing it. Empathy and encouragement — that’s my message.
Second, I’m not some kind of light and fluffy, New Age dreamer spouting fortune cookies about bliss and beauty. If you want that, please go and find another Facebook page. I will not be offended as I know that my words are not for everyone.
People unlike my page every single day and I’m okay with that. I’ve accepted it.
Anyone can write a few words that brag about beautiful things, words designed to satiate readers with hollow sunshine, the profound pretend writing up cotton candy paragraphs, bright and fluffy boasts, sugar-coated, mumbo-jumbo bullshit about shining and sending light.
That’s their thing, but it’s not mine. If you need that, please find another writer and seek another mantra. That’s not me, and that’s not my message. I respect each and every voice, each and every writer, but I do not respect empty words and false promises.
The world has enough good intentions, people patting themselves on the back, congratulating each other on their peace and their positivity. We need more than words. We need meaningful action. That’s my message.
What makes it meaningful is passion, yes, but it’s also the follow-through, the things you do. What makes it meaningful is authenticity. Are you living what you stand for? Are you a person of principle? Do you have integrity? Are you walking the walk? I’m trying.
Sometimes I fail, but I’m trying to get better every day. I’m trying to make a difference in this world by trying to make a difference in myself. I struggle and I stumble, but I’m trying to move forward, to get better, to help others get by. I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit and I think others should try, too. That’s my message.
Third, I’m not perfect and I don’t pretend to be. I’m a flawed work in progress, I’m finding my way, and I know firsthand that sometimes the world is not so great at all. Heartache is an old friend of mine. We go way back. I’m familiar with alcoholism, depression, and betrayal.
I’ve met cancer, defeat, and hopelessness. I know what funerals do to your heart. I’ve lost friends and gained enemies, and people I’ve loved like angels have treated me like devils.
A friend of mine from college used to imitate a Black Eyed Peas song at parties, joking with a thick Mexican accent, “Where is the love, buddy?” His name was Jerry, he was loud and outgoing, and he made me laugh. He was one of the good ones. One day, Jerry drove out of town, walked out onto a bridge, and threw himself off. He was in debt, and I had no idea. I found out on Facebook. I would’ve lent him the money. “Where is the love, buddy? Where is the love?”
I don’t tell you these things to garner sympathy or to boast of my battles. There’s nothing special about my life: Everybody struggles, everyone is doing the best they can, and for that, everyone deserves kindness. That’s my message.
Fourth, I tell you these things to help you understand that I know that, sometimes, the world is not so great at all. When I read the emails and the countless messages I receive, people sharing bits of their souls with me, telling me of their sorrow, their hopelessness, and their grief, I get it. I do.
I get it. And I empathize. Your pain affects me. It motivates me to keep writing, to keep fighting, to keep trying. The truth is that life is not so great sometimes, and we can’t change that. We cannot change what happens to us, but we can change how we react, how we respond.
We can choose to turn tragedy into triumph, fear into excitement, and hurt into healing. Our life is a series of decisions and if we think carefully and we work hard, we can make better choices. That’s my message.
Fifth, thank you for your criticisms and your spiteful messages. I love getting those letters and I am damn proud of them. Every paragraph is a high five for my heart. Why? It means I matter. It means I’m getting through.
It means I’m making you feel something, and it means I’m inspiring you to act on those feelings. That’s huge, and that’s hard, but it’s also a start. Just one emotion, one fleeting moment, one tiny action is enough to turn the tide and spread some hope. That’s my message.
Sixth, I know what hate feels like. I’ve seen it. I know how easy it is to criticize the light because you despise the darkness. I get that and I’ve done that, but please, I beg you, fight that. Avoid that. Stop that.
I know that hate is easy, but that’s what got our world into this not so great mess — taking the easy way out. I know that getting better is hard, that forgiveness is a stubborn bitch, and that progress is a slow struggle, but don’t you quit.
“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up,” says Les Brown. If the tears parade down your cheeks and the pain is too much to endure, “Don’t cry to give up. Cry to keep going,” as Eric Thomas advises.
Don’t you ever fucking quit on yourself. Don’t you ever fucking give up. Don’t you ever fucking neglect to remember that deep down, buried in camouflage and face paint, there lies a hopeful spark in your heart that is the most important thing you will ever own.
Choose to believe in that tiny light in the darkness. Choose to commit to courage. Choose to challenge everything you see, feel and believe, and choose to change it all if nothing is working for you.
Choose to dream big and choose to start small, one day at a time, one hour to believe, one minute to manifest something different, new, exciting, because if you can change your mind, you can change the world. That’s my message.
Finally, when your email told me of a time when, “you’re standing all fucking alone, lost, putting yourself together and losing again, facing the challenge and having your wings sawed off,” I understood. I understood because I’ve been there.
I understood because a part of me feels that, too, a part of me is you. My wings are not pristine. They are battered and scarred and they’re held on by nothing more than the grit in my teeth and the fire in my belly, but guess what? I have them, I use them, and I proudly flutter around… every… damn… day. I can fly, so who gives a shit what my wings look like? Let’s help each other fly. That’s my message.
I will always soar. Soaring is a choice for people with wings, and we all have wings. Let’s help each other soar. That’s my message.
No matter the pain I feel, the assholes I meet, or the cruelty I’m shown, I will rise above. Rising is a choice for people with hearts, and we all have hearts. Let’s help each other rise. That’s my message.
No matter the setbacks, knock-backs, the lies and the loss, I will overcome and I will move forward. I am fierce, but so are you. Let’s be fierce together. That’s my message.
I know it’s hard and it’s scary and it’s overwhelming. I feel it every day. We all do. But if we can face that fear together, something beautiful will happen: Things will change, life will improve, and this not so great world will slowly get better. So let’s do that.
Martin Luther said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Well, guess what? The world’s in pieces, and we need to start planting some trees. So let’s get to it. Go grab your shovel. I’ll be waiting.
(steps off of his soapbox, puts it back in his heart, shrugs shoulders and wanders away, licking his wounds, eager to earn some more)