It Takes A Village – VNV Tuesday: Radical Kindness 5/30/17

Like so many, 45*s treatment of our European allies left me flabbergasted, outraged, and more than a little afraid. I’ve had several nights of near-sleeplessness as I considered the short- and long-term repercussions of his traitorous actions. I’ve had moments of deep despair as I grappled with my individual helplessness in the face of the shift in geopolitical realities. I’ve felt seething anger at the know-nothings in our own country who now see no problem with becoming a client-state of Russia. I’ve been rocked by the ongoing hypocrisy of Republican officials who are trying, with some success, to normalize the actions of Kushner and Flynn. I’ve had the roughest few days I’ve had since Election Night…and then I read this:

And it reminded me that revolutionary love and radical kindness is one form of Resistance that is not dependent upon wealth or status or proximity to power; we all have the capacity for it, whether we recognize it or not. The challenge, of course, is to recognize and act when opportunities for radical kindness present themselves; to learn to wage love. It’s an ongoing challenge, and one for which frequent reminders are necessary. Consider this post one such reminder.

“There are radiant people of brilliant light still inhabiting this place.”

We need to see the superheroes; to recognize the people who carry us, who lift us, who steady us when we are overcome by all that feels so very wrong. Each of us reach moments when we find ourselves at the limits of the weight we can bear, the bad news we can absorb, the cruelty we can endure. And when we are in those places of desperation, and we share space with people of compassion and decency and love and courage; in a way that is sometimes ambiguous and sometimes quite clear—they save us. They swoop into our living rooms, news feeds, and peripheral vision at just the right time, and remind us that we are not in this life alone. Sometimes that can be enough.

And the truth is, we all have this same potentially saving power. Because of this, we need to continue to speak and care and love and forgive, and do our work and raise our families and live well, and look into the eyes of strangers and to ask how they are and really want to know—because other people are watching us and counting on us. For someone else, either at close proximity or from a great distance, and in ways we may never realize—we might be the difference in the day.

“Ultimately I think kindness is the most radical thing you can do…”

“To be kind to each other is the most incredible act of defiance against the dark that I can imagine.”

“But alongside the grief was an undeniable sense of community spirit.”

“I would say people have woken up to a very horrified city,” he said. “It’s not something that we’re used to. But … people are reaching out, still reaching out, to see if they can help in any way, which is fantastic.”

“Tell everyone on this train I love them”

“I just kept telling him, ‘You’re not alone. We’re here,” Macy said. “What you did was total kindness. You’re such a beautiful man. I’m sorry the world is so cruel.”

Non-complementary behavior

This is a professor at Michigan State University named Chris Hopwood. Chris spends his life looking at how people interact with each other. And one of the things that he looks at is called noncomplementary behavior. So the basic idea is that people naturally mirror each other.

So when someone is hostile to you, you are typically hostile back. Warmth begets warmth. And breaking this pattern – say, being really warm to somebody after they’ve been incredibly hostile to you – that is noncomplementary behavior. And according to Hopwood, it’s incredibly hard to do.

And now just cuteness and beauty and fun…

About DoReMI 165 Articles
Now a Michigander, by way of Ohio, Illinois, Scotland, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. Gardener. Sewer. Democrat. Resister.


  1. Good morning and thanks, DoReMI! I have also been thinking about kindness lately; something that seems to be missing nowadays.

    • It is in short supply, and as I’m a naturally-snarky person, responding with what the NPR article calls “non-complementary behavior” isn’t my first impulse. I’ve found that I’m resorting to the old parenting trick of counting to 10 before responding to quell my initial snarky impulses. I’m still prone to comments that are kind of passive-aggressive; the “did she just insult me, or am I being to sensitive?” type of reply. So this whole post is a reminder for me more than anything…!

  2. {{[DoReMI}}} – thanks so much for doing double duty – yes, kindness is the answer. It’s not always easy, but it’s the answer. Caring, loving, kindness — community supporting each other just because it’s right, just because you want to. That’s the Love that overcomes Hate. It is hard to respond to evil with good. It’s what we are called to do – no matter what Faith (or not Faith) we belong to. That’s why they are hard choices. It’s a little easier if you initiate the interaction. Smile first — before they get close enough to start their Hate. Their instinct will be to smile back — even if they don’t do it, the instinct is there, pulling them a step away from Hate. Caring is a core thing.

    Back at work means hit and miss visiting, but I’ll do my best. {{{Moose Village}}}

    • I haven’t found a faith/belief tradition yet that doesn’t include some form of the Golden Rule, so it’s far from an original observation. But reminders can be helpful, particularly as polarized as we are these days.

      • Reminders are very helpful when we live in a society currently led by Hate. As much as they would like to rule, we are not ruled by Hate – we can always choose caring, kindness – Love. But we have to consciously choose Love when we are confronted by Hate. Our instincts tell us to respond to Hate with Hate. Even if our first impulse is always caring, our reactions aren’t. My grandmother used to say, “God gave us free will of choice” – and that’s the choice, Love or Hate. Moar {{{HUGS}}}

  3. Hey, Meese! Hope everyone enjoyed the three day weekend. Thanks for your double delight of deliciousness today, DoReMi. It seems like every day is a new challenge; a new bombshell to avoid. Remembering there is still kindness and decency in this world keeps us resisting.

    The temperatures are going to start inching up this week, so I’m going to take advantage of the projected high of 81 and get my workout done.

    • Ours are yo-yoing while it decides whether or not it’s going to rain. probably not but maybe. i’ve got to recover from doing some outside work yesterday before i do any more. LOL

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