13 Simple Ideas for Becoming Human Again

13 Simple Ideas for Becoming Human Again August 28, 2015

shutterstock_116101924There’s nothing like a campaign season to remind us of the worst of humanity. It’s not unusual to catch a bit of a stump speech and think, is that person part of the same human race that I am? This week it’s Ann Coulter stumping for Donald Trump, and while I try not to give the woman any oxygen or air time in my life, her words are so horrifically hateful and so gleefully delivered, that I really kind of lose my mind.

What’s happened to us that we’ve become such a people of hate? What’s happened to us that we live in such fear and hatred instead of love and kindness toward each other? And I start to wonder, further … when did it become so unusual to be kind and decent toward one another? I mean, the simple act of smiling at someone you don’t know almost seems old-fashioned and ridiculous these days, doesn’t it? When did that happen?

It’s times like these that I find myself doubling down on kindness. It’s my instinctual response to hate; my way of reminding myself that the little choices we make all day long are stabs back at the darkness. It’s my way of saying, oh yeah, hate (Ann)? You think you win today? Not if I can help it.

I’m reminded of a good friend whose wife, when my friend would start to get in a big huffy hurry to get out of the house, would intentionally slow waaaay down. Her slowness boldly challenged his hurry, and usually forced him to surrender. Now, I’m not so naive to think that my small acts of kindness, combined with yours, will fell the Ann Coulters of the world … oh wait, yes I am. I am that naive. I think it comes with the faith territory.

When hate is raging, intentionally bring the light. Remember what it means to be a human being. Here are some very, VERY simple ideas for increasing the light and reminding ourselves each day that we’re human again. (Bonus aside: watch how kindness has a crazy way of transforming the energy around you, healing others, and going freaky viral (google “Starbucks chain of kindness.”))

1. Say hello to someone in the elevator. You might even wish them a good morning. (I know, crazy, right?)

2. Open a door for someone who has their arms full.

3. Pull your elderly neighbor’s trash cans in for them on trash day.

4. Compliment a co-worker on a project or a good idea.

5. Thank your waiter, or the person who bags your groceries, or your kid’s teacher. When you thank them, look them in the eyes and mean it.

6. Give someone a hug (check out the research on the healing power of hugs).

7. Let someone into your lane on the freeway. (Just do it already, as a rebellious act of kindness!)

8. Buy a big box of granola bars and hand them out as you drive past the beleagured souls on street corners.

9. Attend a church service in another part of town with people who don’t look like you.

10. Get someone a drink of water (that’s from Anne Lamott).

11. Read a poem by David Whyte, or Mary Oliver, or Maya Angelou, or the Persian mystic Hafiz. (This is more for you than anyone else, but you know what they say… when one person finds inner peace, thousands around them are saved.*)

12. Apologize to someone you were short with yesterday.

13. End your day by looking back over the last 24 hours and noticing where you felt most connected to yourself, others, and the world. Give thanks for the big and small moments of connection, of kindness, of decency you showed or received this day.

Simple, right? That same good friend with the ‘slow’ wife also told me once that Christianity is really quite simple — we’re just supposed to love each other. That’s it! So simple, he said with a smile, and yet oh-so-hard to practice.

Let’s stack the deck in favor of kindness versus hatred. It’s time to double down and bet big on the power of small gestures of love, practiced intentionally and in increasingly regular intervals, to win the game.

Image: Shutterstock

*St. Seraphim of Sarov said it first.


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7 responses to “13 Simple Ideas for Becoming Human Again”

  1. #11… add Shunryu Suzuki.

    This post should be reposted so as to go viral at Christmas time. Why are people so nasty during what’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year”?

  2. You know, things were pretty bad for a lot of other people in 1954. Or are you saying that things went bad the same year we desegregated schools? Is… is this a veiled argument for Jim Crow era legislation?

  3. Huh? When did blacks ever commit more murders on whites than they have among themselves? Civil rights leaders in the 1960s were complaining about the same thing. People living in really bad conditions tend to have higher crime rates, it seems to be that ‘if I have limited prospect of employment, and limited access to education, crime is more appealing’. Violence simply comes out of that.

    There wasn’t a legal effort to eradicate them all (although lynchings certainly weren’t often prosecuted) but there was a concerted effort to make sure that economically, African Americans would be practically forbidden from obtain middle class status, even with middle class incomes.

    All the while we had “Christians” talking about things like ‘purity of the races’ for reasons both against interracial marriage and even for keeping segregation a legal requirement.

    Plenty of “Christians” likewise owned slaves in generations before. It doesn’t seem the religion managed to temper people’s attitudes towards others, so I don’t think Christians can really complain that things have gone to hell in a hand-basket when things really did use to be significantly more morally abhorrent.

  4. … Huh? That’s quite a nonsequitor, mind explaining your reasoning?

    What does that have to do with your strange rosy eyed glasses for jim crow era segregated society? Are you what, 70 and grew up in a tiny white little bubble? Did you live in an andy griffiths rerun?

    Man, and I thought Christians were supposed to care about the less fortunate. Apparently actually having empathy for people who have been systematically abused since the foundation of the country is expecting too much.

    Lack of opportunity attracts crime, and crime attracts violence. You’d think a Christian would be especially attentive of people persecuted by a larger society, but I guess not when it was Christians who were in charge of the oppression?

  5. When someone longs for 1954, and uses the term “black on black”, you know that person is white. And ethnocentric to boot.

  6. Given the wave of criminality and murder going on, there are plenty of African Americans speaking out against the genocide you seem to be supporting with that statement. How about we stop aborting 60% of African American babies in the womb first? How about we pay a living wage to EVERY man, black, white and polka dotted, so that they can be Fathers and protectors of their families and children?