What a year it has been. This time last year, almost at the exact time I am writing this, hundreds of people were mowed down in central Paris. It came less than a year after the Charlie Hebdo attacks which had shocked the nation to its core. Four month later, it was Brussels’ turn, and on Bastille Day, France experienced its third deadly terrorist attack. This came exactly 3 weeks after the UK voted to leave the EU in the (in)famous Brexit vote, which caused a surge in racial hate crimes. Today similar hate crimes are mushrooming in the US after Donald Trump’s (‘rigged’?) election win on Tuesday. In between all of this there have been many terrorists attacks, unfortunately often under- or unreported, a humongous refugee crisis instigated by civil wars, often exasperated by western (non)intervention, and the rise of totalitarian systems dissolving the freedom of the press in Russia and Turkey. When summed up like this, it would be easy to assume that last year has been a year of doom and gloom, and things are only going to get worse… Yet, as I wrote a year ago, we should never give up on our dreams for a better world. Difficult times like these are the best opportunities to be resilient and reinforce our efforts to bring kindness to the world. Change comes from within, and every time we opt to do an act of kindness rather than to be negative, we win – even if all we did was just opening a door for another person or let someone merge in front of us in busy traffic.
Earlier this year, I stumbled upon this amazing TED talk by Orly Wahba on the power of kindness. It really inspired me and I signed up for the Live Vest Inside Daily Kind newsletter. For months I have been experiencing the contagious character of kindness, reading their energizing and stimulating messages first thing in the morning. In turn, I have noticed how this has triggered me to include more random acts of kindness into my life. And just as with my gratitude bowl, I experienced that kindness applied, just as gratitude, multiplies the acts of kindness received (and hence even more to be grateful for!!). This is why I signed up to host the Dance for Kindness event here in Champagne in August. In the end ‘my event’ did not pan out in any way I had envisaged it; in fact just as I got a little momentum going the event was cancelled by the Reims town hall for security reasons. Upon reading the news I went through the 5 stages of grief, luckily rather quickly, before I looked for a way to circumvent the system. After all the city had only prohibited me to organise a public event; this did not mean I could not still participate in the world wide Dance for Kindness event in private :-) And as you can see from the video here above, with the help of friends, I danced!!
I wanted to share this, for since Wednesday, or in fact since the end of June, I have been seeing two very different attitudes in my FB feed. There are the people who are disappointed with the way the Brexit and US presidential elections went, and who are sharing all all the negatives attached to the results; often times they wish to overturn the democratic process and somehow undo the results. In the UK people argue the referendum is not legally binding whilst in the US people feel hard done by the electoral college rules which meant that the candidate who lost the public vote, still won the presidency.
Whilst I can see the validity of these points, I much prefer the other attitude which consists of people looking for ways to change things from within; generally by fighting even harder to look out for one another and by many different acts of kindness. I love this way as it is within our reach and control and more importantly it comes from a place of love. As many people have said in the past, hatred cannot be eliminated by more hatred; only love can defeat hatred. And every act of kindness is a small battle won, and eventually will us help to win the war. We should realize that neither Brexit or Trump are the underlying problem. The real problem is FEAR, fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of differences. It is here that I feel we should focus our attention and break down this fear with acts of kindness, rather than feed it by finger pointing. By actively fighting for a more integrated world, where we reach out to everybody, including the people we most disagree with (or even blame right now), we will enable change and eventually create a better world. It really is very easy, all we need is caring more about everything in our world (the rights of people, of animals, the environment, sustainability…) and blanketing it in kindness and love! Like the title of the DFK song for this year, we really hold the keys to the world :-)