This is my message to activists on New Year's Day 2018.
Many thanks and blessings to my many friends who are committed to activism in 2018. Every small action has a consequence, some not immediate. I got even clearer in 2017 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 which 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?"
Image © Sander Feinberg "Namaste Boy" taken in Upper Mustang, Nepal, 2010.