Thursday, February 19, 2015

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion (#1000Speak)

Brilliant, right?!
This post is part of the amazing initiative 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. On February 20, around the world humanity is pulling together to flood the blogosphere, twitter, and facebook with kindness and compassion. If you're stopping by on the 20th and want to take part or even just read more #1000Speak posts, here is the link up, but in all honesty, today and everyday, let's just all be kind!

Here are my thoughts for UN World Day of Social Justice:

In a group therapy session a few months ago, the leader asked all of the members to introduce themselves and to include the thing(s) that were most to us. My "simple" answer was family, but my "more complicated" answer was social justice and equality. Life gets a little complicated when those two things collide. I have family members who are openly racist toward Muslims despite the fact that many of my friends practice Islam. I have other family members who think it's funny to make racist jokes about First Nations people despite the fact that I recently married a Syilx man. It's simple to disassociate with friends and delete contacts on facebook who feel the need to post hateful messages, but with family that's just not an option for me. So, I've decided what I need to do is take a lesson from the Quba Islamic Institute and come up with creative responses to hate. We are so quick to respond to hate with hate and it gets us nowhere. In fact, it moves us further away from any sort of conceivable utopia. Consider what the world would look like if acceptance was received on the sole fact that we are all human, if we could escape stereotypes and labels and put ourselves in the positions of others before we pass judgement.

When I watched this video, taken in downtown Toronto, Canada, I cried. I'll say they were tears of joy because they were, but a part of that joy still comes from the sorrow that drives this man's actions in the first place. Why are we more shocked by the strangers that stop to hug him than we are by the fact that he is standing there with these signs in the first place? Imagine if every person who saw this man hugged him and then imagine if this situation never had to exist in the first place! Regardless of whether you are Muslim or not would you be brave enough to do this in the city where you live? Would you stage a similar action with signs identifying yourself as Transgender (or any other non-heteronormative gender), or Schizophrenic (or any other mental illness), or any number of labels that would place you within a stigmatised group of people that exists outside the social "norm"? I like to think I am, but I don't know if that's really the truth.  

I dream of a day when media headlines more often include words like "kindness" and "peace" than "hatred" and "war". We can all do our part to ensure that dream comes true. I've been a RAKtivist for some time now and I challenge everyone who reads this to become one too. RAK stands for Random Act of Kindness and over the past few years I've made a conscious effort to be kinder. Sometimes opportunities to be kind just present themselves and sometimes they take a little more planning. In 2012 I spent one hundred days doing a RAK each day and keeping track of what I did. In 2013, I turned 29 on January 29 and performed 29 RAKs throughout that day. I challenged others to perform their own randomly kind acts and the result was nothing short of magical. Fifty-one people in seven countries on five continents performed seventy Random Acts of Kindness! It was the best birthday I've ever had! 

In 2016 I am launching an even bigger project in the hopes of inspiring as many people as possible to change the world with kindness. B(e) Kind 366 has been in the planning stages for a few months now and will have the finishing touches put on it throughout 2015. I hope I can entice you all to join in the fun and perhaps even create a kindness challenge of your own. 
Kindness and compassion can and will change the world, we just have to put forth the effort!

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for this message. Too many people forget that we learn from love, not hate. I know its difficult to show love to ignorance, but that is only the only way to heal these wounds. Fear is so powerful and people respond to it in terrible ways. Bless you!

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    1. Indeed they do, Mark. Ignorance is difficult, but often trying to "fight" it only breeds more hate. Answering with kindness is something I still need to master, but I'm learning. Thank you for your lovely words. I cherish your blessing!

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  2. Good post. Thanks for sharing that video.

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    1. The video is just so powerful isn't it?! Glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. I wish there were more sentiments like yours out there. :)

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    1. Oh, there are, DL - it's just that we hear about the hate more than we hear about the love! Thank you for the compliment :)

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  4. Your post really spoke to me. I love the idea of being a RAKtivist! I don't think the general population realizes that they are not only making a difference in others' lives, but also in their own with each RAK. Your joy level reaches new heights. We teach our children that all human lives are of the same value - we may look different, have different beliefs, sexual preferences, etc - but if you cut us open, we are all the same on the inside, we all bleed the same. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your Kindness project! Oh, and loved the video!

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    1. I am so glad that you found something uplifting in my post :) Yes, there is a study somewhere that shows that people who practice RAKs live longer! Who knows if it's really true, but it can't hurt that's for sure. "We all bleed the same" is just such a fantastic statement! Glad you enjoyed the video.

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  5. It is indeed a beautiful response to a very offensive comment! If only people would be less judgmental and have more humility!

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    1. Indeed, Roshni! It's a skill I am learning to master myself.

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  6. Loved your concept of RAKs. We all must implement and more so write about it. Spread it like it were contagious and the world will be full of kindness

    Thank you for reading my story on my blog and leaving a thoughtful comment. That was very kind of you too.

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    1. Yes, definitely. I will be blogging about B(e) Kind 366, I hope everyday even if it is just a few quick sentences. At the very least I hope to produce weekly updates! I'll be sure to visit you again soon.

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  7. Oh my goodness Brandy what an amazing clip! Thank you so much for sharing this film, it made me cry when I thought of the possibilities of a better world, of spreading love and trust instead of hate and fear. It's ironic that someone who feels like a social outcast brings so many people together as this clip is shown around the world..

    I'm so glad you stopped by my blog otherwise I'd never have had the privilige of 'meeting' you and reading about all you do for others.

    Finally, good luck with your studies - English Lit, hey?! I am mad about the Bront├ęs and enjoy nothing more than a day out in Haworth, strolling through the vicarage and walking over the moors. :)

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    1. I know, right, Michelle?! I cried so much. After reading your story I just imagine Marie out there on that street asking for acceptance and love. The disabled are often the most ostracised of us all.
      Yes, Engish Lit - Jane Austen in particular! I saw that you are a Bronte fan! I hope to visit JA's England someday.

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  8. Love it! RAKtivist! Count me in :) There is no call for hatred in this world, other than to make us realize how much more we need to love, Brandy. So nice to see you blogging again and good luck with your Master's degree. Your kindness project deserves some extra TLC, so I'll be sharing this over in the Effectively Human Google + Community :)

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    1. Thanks so much M.J. I'll be writing a new post soon about my new official status as a RAKtivist with The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. I definitely appreciate all of the love I can get!

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