Humans need the herd, the group, the tribe, the clan, or whatever you call your greater society, not only to survive but to live meaningful lives.
I never knew my great grandfather and only remember the occasional stories about him, but I do know that he was a working man who raised a large family with limited means, and still managed to be such a positive influence on his community that one of the few streets in this little town that isn’t named after a tree is named after him. I’m rather proud of that.
Inspiration comes from the oddest places, at the oddest times, and can lead to the oddest things. It’s almost a form of borrowed energy, as often lent without knowledge of the lender and meant to be passed forward in lieu of repayment.
While the persistent state of being serene can encompass contentment, that it might even be presumed in the understanding of the word, the latter is a much more slippery thing than the former. So much so that I struggle calling it a state of being even though I am pretty sure it’s not an emotion.
There is beauty in a moment captured that we otherwise wouldn’t see because it flies by so fast or happens so far away we wouldn’t even know it exists. There is beauty in not only the line and form and movement of a dancer, but also in the simple physical effort of dancing, and there is certainly beauty in the smile of a child full of joy.
You feel good so you smile. There’s an existing and well-documented cause and effect relationship that nobody ever thinks might work in the other direction, and yet the two aspects of the thing are so closely related that apparently it does.
Dignity is such a tender thing, gentle and diaphanous, and so easily disturbed that our reactions when it is can be very raw. When a person fits into the narrow little cubbyhole of expectations that our culture allows us, it’s easy to forget just how quickly it can be upset, because when we maintain that focus, keep up with the Joneses, it seems nailed on like aluminum siding when in reality we’re still only just pinning it to our faces with our own expectations.
Prejudice, a preset belief in what one thing is without any actual experience or fact to back it up, runs through all of us in various shades, and in ways even those of us with a more progressive mindset would find surprising.
As this year, one of too many sorrows and fear for the future comes to a close, I was taught that if kindness is something you practise with purpose and believe in, it will eventually begin to happen without any intention at all.
A good friend of mine, when discussing this with me, has called kindness a muscular strength, powerful, not a weakness in any sense and one of the most intrinsic pillars of our humanity.