I am relatively young. A woman in her early 20's does not yet have much life experience compared her much wiser elders. I have not been married, had children, experienced the death of any immediate family, or made any large purchases.
As an American child born in the late 1990s, I was thrust into a world full of technological advancements, social reform. political involvement and revolutions across all mediums of art and music. I grew up with the world at my fingertips, which meant that I could not only see all the good in the world but also all the bad. My mind developed around the whirlwind of wild, apocalyptic, sometimes disturbing headlines that I've been overwhelmed with *literally* every year of my life (see below):
"USS Cole attack" (2000)
"Osama bin Laden is dead" (2011)
THIS is the stuff I heard as a child. And it was everywhere! My TV, my computer, and my phone were littered with Planet Earth's horror stories in graphic detail. In a way, I grew up much faster than I was supposed to. I know about the many ways humans hurt each other because I've lived most of my life hearing stories of violence and terror, some of which bled into my personal life as I began to experience more of the world. All this say, I've got street cred even though I'm only 20.
With said street cred, I have only one point to make: WE MUST BE NICER TO EACH OTHER.
I know this sounds like some hippie-dippie mess and a Band-Aid solution, but it's something humans are obviously failing to do. The way that people speak to one another makes me want to cry. I get mad and stomp my feet and wonder how mankind can tear itself apart in the name of self-elevation.
But, I'm just as much part of the problem. I say things without first calculating the repercussions because my current situation in the world feels so dire that I cannot think of anything else but myself. It's a horrible way to go at life. So then why do we all treat others poorly if it makes both parties feel crappy inside?
It's a question that humans have been trying to answer since the first time selfishness came into the world. Self-centeredness has been part of our nature for so long. It's the first choice; that "gut" feeling. But what so many of us fail to acknowledge is that we do not have to lean into a me-focused world.
I'm not saying that choosing kindness is easy. It's proven to be one of mankind's largest hurdles to jump. But, there are ways to make loving others a little easier. In my experience, I have found that the smallest acts of compassion can completely alter the lens through which you see life. When your purpose is something other than yourself, you become a vessel of positive change which in turn rewards you with seeing others experience joy. Being kind is the best win-win situation ever. I don't believe in "karma" but I do believe that choosing humility and grace will always bring with it the biggest blessings life can offer.
Of course, the many, widely debated details of what it means to have a kinder America and a more humble world will always be in limbo. That's just part of having thousands of governments with their own interests. But, I believe humans instinctively know the basics of practicing love as well as they know selfishness. We are born with the knowledge that love is the highest. Love is God. Love is self-sacrifice. Love is so much more than us. We can choose to embrace love or run from it, but both sides know that it exists.
The choice to embrace love will be vital in piecing together a more peaceful planet, even in the big, scary cases of law and politics. As humans, we must invest in the things we love before we can invest in being kind to others. Start with spending time examining your spirit. Then honor yourself as someone covered in love and worthy of care. Help your family. Check on your friends. Seek out those in need. This circle of kindness expands outward endlessly from a God you know more personally than anyone to people you will never meet. If I do not attend to the things at the center of my circle, I cannot expand outward which leaves me feeling dejected and without purpose.