Book of Blackbirds: The Politics of Kindness

Book of Blackbirds: The Politics of Kindness October 31, 2016
photograph of michael leunig in 2012
Michael Leunig / BahudharaOwn workCC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimeida Commons

“I must tell you that I am having trouble being alert and alarmed – or fearful about the so-called ‘forces of evil’… I am a complete and utter failure at all this hateful dread.”

~ Michael Leunig, Australian cartoonist

What does this have to do with modern Paganism and why is it posted on a pagan blog? Because I believe that showing simple kindness, while not exclusive to Paganism by any means, rightfully belongs as one of our most basic core tenets, right up there with revering our Mother Earth as sacred and taking a stand against hatred, bigotry, and greed wherever it shows its ugly head. There is a bit of practical magic in real-world acts of kindness as well, magic that can actively transform lives far better in my opinion than muttering a few prayers. I think the Gods, or at least the ones I’m familiar with, might agree on this point.

* * *

Both sides of the American political discourse are currently shouting, “Liar! Liar!” at each other, and I suppose as Halloween approaches it is only inevitable we see all these spooky skeletons being dragged out of the closet everywhere and dangled before our eyes to scare us. The anger, hate, and divisiveness are affecting people everywhere, and as in any war, any form of real “truth” always becomes the first casualty. Ultimately, we are responsible for and must take care of ourselves and more importantly, each other.

the word "truth" over which a magnifying glass reveals the word "lies"
Open Clipart Vectors /

This political season will pass, and then there will be another, and yet another after that. But, the seeds sown now will affect us far into the future, long after this American election is over. Rather than anger, hate, division, and only adding to the already soul-shattering noise by going about regurgitating politicians’ TV talking points to no one who is listening, we can instead try to sow seeds of kindness for each other. We can try walking a mile–or a thousand miles–in the other person’s shoes, and seeing that despite what the talking heads would have us believe, there is goodness and hope and real beauty still left in the world.

I have traveled the world over and have seen that people everywhere, regardless of their ethnicity or nationality, only want the same things: to live in peace, to love their families and provide for them, to appreciate as much as possible this oh-so-short life while we have still it, and yes, to even help others who really need it. If we are to survive, not only this American election but into the unknown future, the only things that matter are going to be the kindnesses we show for each other, taking care of our fragile and ailing planet, as well as every creature that walks, flies, slithers, swims, or crawls upon it.

the words "be kind" written in colorful chalk on a sidewalk
reneebigelow /

Please, don’t listen to politicians who tell you everyone else is lazy and only want to take from you what is yours for this is the most insidious of untruths, and at its heart, lays a poisoning curse. It keeps us ever suspicious of our fellow humans, especially of those who are truly in need. It keeps us distrustful, and worst of all, incessantly fearful of our neighbours, both where we live and all around the world.  There are perhaps a few people to whom that would apply, but not everyone to the extent we are led to believe.

Yes it is true there are too many unspeakable tragedies–horrors here, terrors there–but here is me, sorry (not sorry) for attempting to retain my composure and happiness in the midst of it all. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to muster up all this anxiety, apprehension, anguish, dismay, distress, fear, fright, panic, trepidation, terror, and unease which I am supposed to be perpetually feeling.

That’s not to say I don’t have strong feelings about world events, and I’ve cried over tragedies too many times.  But for sanity’s sake, I try to keep current events in a historical and worldly perspective, and I refuse to be manipulated into a constant state of fear, as well as hatred, of those who are different. Some would have us believe that this perpetual anxiety and fearfulness is our duty as responsible citizens and that this has been the case since forever. But, I just don’t buy it any more.

Kindness is our only way out of this trap; please try some today.

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