A much better writer than I could ever hope to be, Zora Neale Hurston once said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” What of the years that do both? What of the months, the days that do both? We stand today in a world filled with questions, and many people will have many different ways of answering them. Some will stand and sing songs of revenge; some will whisper of revolt, of the absolute refusal to acquiesce. Some will rejoice, and their answers will be filled with pride. My answer to the questions posed, to all of the questions raised and unearthed over the year that has come and will soon pass, is simple. My answer is this: kindness. My answer is love.
In a sense, I, too, will whisper of revolution but not the expected sort. My wonderful, creative, inspiring partner, Sarah Linden, and I have coined a phrase over the many months that led to my book, North Pole Ninjas, actually entering this world of ours, and it is “kindness revolution.” In a world of hashtags and social media hoopla, we have such high hopes that this is one that spreads, and again, for such a simple reason. We need now, more than ever, a revolution of compassion, of grace, of tenderness that is given without regard to how it’s returned with complete regard to giving it, more when it is unearned. We must relearn the toughest lesson that it is then, absolutely then, that it is needed the most. Now, it is needed most.
If this is a questioning year, so many of those questions will undoubtedly come from the perfect mouths and perfect minds of our youth. Children will, filter-free and pure, ask us of divides in the world they wander through. They will ask us of what they see on news channels and they will wonder why. Always why. To this we must speak softly of kindness, of the need to spread it unabashedly and freely. To give, and give, and give some more until there’s nothing left to give, and then to give more after that. We must show them the way forward, the way to offering hands up to those that cannot stand alone, of protecting those we love, those we don’t yet know, those that share our beliefs and most importantly, those that may not. We must teach of charity, of the beautiful pleasure that comes, secretly and silently, when we do things for others for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do. More than teaching, we must show them, and we must show them so often that it becomes a routine they fall in love with, without ever realizing they’ve done so. We are the answers to the questions they will ask, and we must be prepared to be them. We must be prepared to be better.
I wrote something profoundly personal to me this morning, something that was my answer to the questions that have been raised over the months we’ve just come through. I wrote of looking forward, of staring into whatever darkness we may face and bringing our light, our hope into it. Of bringing our kindness, unashamed and true, everywhere we go, and giving it to everyone we meet. We will teach children this. We will show them to cherish their own light, to lend their sparks to ours and create a fire in doing so. We will teach them that sometimes, we must be the light, and chase out the dark.
A kindness revolution is at hand, and we are the orchestrators of it. The time is now to start new routines, new traditions rooted in the perfect soil of compassion, of empathy, of putting others before ourselves and loving every minute along the way. A baton will be passed in the days, the months, the years to come, and it is up to us to make sure that all those waiting for it will be ready to accept it. Start small, start from where you are, with what you have, but start. Kindness, my friends, simple kindness, can go so much further than you’d ever believe.
There are years that ask questions, and thank goodness, there are years that answer. Listen now, as we whisper in a collective breath, of revolt, of revolution. Listen, as we whisper of kindness.
– From MariaShriver.com