Kindness as an Act of the Resistance

By Maud Kersnowski Sachs

I’m angry. My 9 year-old daughter is angry. My 82 year-old father is angry. Everyone I know is angry. We’re signing petitions, making calls, going to meetings, protesting in the streets, and posting obsessively of social media. And every day, it gets a little worse, and considerably more unreal.

Life keeps going, because it has to. Everyday, I walk the dog, return calls, drop off my daughter at school, and whatever else need to be done. Walking home today,  she and I were talking about the importance of kindness and how as we get older the definition of kindness evolves. In kindergarten, kindness is about sharing, not calling someone a “poopy-head,” and saying thank you. (Not biting is a big plus, too). By fourth grade, kindness is being aware of other people’s feelings, working together, and sometimes, just acknowledging that there is another person there.

I found myself saying, “You don’t have to agree with everybody, but you do have to be kind. You don’t want to be…”

“…like Donald Trump?” my daughter finished.

And my heart broke a little. This is a child who had spent her whole life with the Obamas in the White House and I was telling her not to behave like the President of the United States, because he is not a kind person. See, in elementary school, we judge people by their actions. We know that words are actions and can hurt. The current President’s actions have not been kind.

“Yes,” I told her. “You don’t want to be like him. Now more than ever, it’s important to be kind.”

There’s a corrosiveness to the vitriol coming from Trump. For me the only way to fight that is with kindness. I’m not talking about sticky-sweet-marshmallow-fluff kindness. I’m talking about actual warmth for other human beings. It’s one of the things that was so striking about the Women’s March: everybody was kind.

So as I go through my day – sharing on FaceBook, reading The New York Times and Washington Post more than I should, commiserating with friends, and showing up for the next event — I’m trying to remember to be a little kinder, a little more aware of my fellow humans. I’m talking to the cashier at the grocery store. I’m letting people go in front of me in line at Starbucks. I’m holding the door for the guy juggling packages. I’m smiling at the mom with her screaming toddler. And sometimes, I am just acknowledging that there is another person standing next to me.

I know, none of this will change what’s happening in Washington. It hasn’t stopped me from being angry and appalled. I am. It certainly doesn’t mean I won’t do everything I can. I will. But it makes me feel a little less bleak and I hope it does the same for those around me. For me kindness  has become quiet, daily act of resistance.


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Maud Kersnowski Sachs

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