Namaste Boy Copyright Sander Feinberg

Image © Sander Feinberg “Namaste Boy” taken in Upper Mustang, Nepal, 2010.

I wrote the original post below in 2018. In my life, it is even more appropriate today. In 2024, my perception is that many people express their “activism” in personal attacks on others for not having the same opinion or position or voicing the same emotion.

For me, having worked since I was 15 for peace, human rights and community among all humans, this is a turn for the worse. I believe it comes from our deep-seated sense of powerlessness to stop the horror of war around the world and the killing of innocents. BUT attacking others, especially those who COULD BE ALLIES, is ludicrous and for me, makes matters worse.

Blame, shame and judgment are the pandemic of 2024, in a way I never could have predicted. They are NOT activism in my worldview.

I am looking for ways to take direct action. Let us all be more like the heroes setting up food kitchens in Gaza, helping the families in front of them rather than ranting at strangers. We can’t be there, but can send donations and spread the word of their brave action. Similarly, spread the word of the courageous Arab and Israeli people who continue working for peace despite the conflict, rather than spreading hate against those who do not agree with you. Learn about the suffering in Sudan, the Congo and elsewhere that has gone on for many years with little media attention.

Practice Kindness

Many thanks and blessings to my many friends who are committed to activism in these troubling and contentious times.

Every small action has a consequence, some not immediate. Each day, I get clearer about how interdependent we are, how important connection and mutual support can be.

We all are aware of the forces at play in our country and around the world using intimidation, violence and lies to advance their reactionary agenda. Each of us contributes in whatever way we can to resist these trends and to take action that fits our interests, skills and resources.

In addition to overt activism, I am choosing a course of action which is available to anyone: practicing kindness. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Mine too.

We need no special training, no money, no “extra” time to practice kindness. In 2016 in the turmoil of the US election I began to look at how much time I spent in anger and frustration. In 2017, I must say the anger and frustration only increased.

I began to ask myself, “What is stopping you from being kind?” This is not a rhetorical question. I discovered it is deep and transformational.

Being kind in all circumstances is, for me, a practice of strength, not weakness. I have found that practicing kindness is simply magical in some situations, transforming a lack of connection with other humans into a warmth that I believe produces instant improvement and long-term change.

Being kind does NOT mean we stop taking decisive action to make the world a better place for all beings. My experience is it can inform all our actions and transform our relationships, even with strangers.

So I ask you the same question. No need to answer to anyone but yourself in your prayers and meditation.

“What is stopping you from being kind?”