At the Golden Globes last week, Meryl Streep gave a speech that renounced bullying and stood up for empathy and freedom of the press.
“Disrespect invites disrespect,” she said. “Violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Maybe I’m looking at the past through rose-colored glasses, but that seems the sort of statement that we used to all deem innocuous. Bullying is bad. Who would argue? But because President-elect Trump was the bully that Streep was clearly repudiating even though she never uttered his name, the actress was widely criticized for politicizing a Hollywood awards banquet.
Streep ended her speech by quoting her friend and fellow actress, the recently departed Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart. Make it into art.”
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Art takes on many forms. On Inauguration Day – this Friday – I want to invite you to participate in a non-traditional form that I’m calling a Kindness Blitz.
This is an easy invitation to RSVP yes to. You don’t have to show up at a particular place at a particular time. Simply agree to complete at least one act of kindness on Inauguration Day. I have a whole list in mind of simple acts I want to perform. Most will take five minutes or less.
I’m going to drop off quarters at the laundromat, offer to pump someone’s gas, place a book or two in a Little Free Library, leave a nice note on a random car in a parking lot, write a letter thanking public servants, find something in my closet that can be donated to a local nonprofit and offer to bus a fellow diner’s table.
You could choose something more personal – call a friend you haven’t talked to in ages or offer to babysit your cousin’s kids.
Post about it on social media – or don’t. (If you are active on social media, please find our Kindness Blitz event page on Facebook via the local nonprofit where I work, Inspire Media Network.) Pick an act of kindness that requires face-to-face interaction – or one that allows anonymity.
Obviously, kindness shouldn’t be reserved for one day, and it isn’t usually something you mark on the calendar along with, “PTA meeting” and “make a dentist appointment.” But Jan. 20 is a special day in America.
Whether you welcome our new president and his administration or you don’t, we can all agree that it’s the beginning of a new chapter.
We make resolutions to usher in a new year – and this year, “being a better person” topped the list, knocking weight loss from the top spot. We tell ourselves that what we do on New Year’s Day will set the tone for the whole year. So I see this Kindness Blitz as a way of expressing hope for the next four years. May kindness be something we practice regularly. After all, it is a form of self-care. When you give, you get. An act of kindness will boost your mood instantly, and often, kindness is contagious.
May we never forget that our nation is bigger than one leader, than one cabinet, than one session of Congress. May we continue to give of ourselves and to remember the less fortunate. May we remember that the little things aren’t little at all.
Regardless of whether our president succeeds in making America great again – and how you define that – let’s work to make America kind again. Together.
Andrea Griffith Cash lives in Durham and is the director of inspiration at local nonprofit Inspire Media Network, which focuses on kindness and empathy. Tell her about your kindness projects at firstname.lastname@example.org.