America is divided right now, sometimes making it difficult to connect positively with your fellow humans. What steps can we take to make sure that we counteract this with kindness?
It’s easy to get caught up in everything negative going on in the world. On the internet, on the news, even in person, there seems to be a lot of disheartening content being produced all the time. But sometimes, especially around the holidays, we seem more capable of bringing out the kindness that is inherent inside us.
What am I suggesting? Keep the holiday season all year long. One does not have to be a religious person to appreciate the kindness, generosity and warmth we all share together during Christmas. We seem to have stepped up our game to be more inclusive and open during this season. Maybe when we hear the bell of the Salvation Army ringing in front of the grocery store we are reminded of others, especially those who are truly in need. Or when stores display wondrous lights, we remember our very young days when every person we meet put out their hand and wished us a fantastic holiday. Or maybe we hear a classic holiday song that reminds us of long-deceased relatives who worked hard to make our holiday more meaningful.
So here is what I am going to try to do for the next year to keep the season going. I hope you will try, too:
- Do not interact with negative social media posts and comments. Social media wants controversy and drama to draw attention. Ignore it.
- Try to share positive and generous examples of humanity with Facebook friends, LinkedIn associates or on other social media platforms. Americans by their nature are helpful and kind people. Let’s tell those stories and share them.
- Turn off nasty partisan comments and accusations made by all political operatives, both on the left and right. I will now switch channels when point and counterpoint experts are featured. They generally hurl unsubstantial charges at each other. The media might like the controversy, but it only further divides our country.
- Go out of your way to be nice and respectful to others you meet. A “good morning” or an authentic compliment makes everyone feel better.
- Offer help to visitors and people who appear lost. Yes, there is an “app” for directions, but being in a strange area can create anxiety and a sense of isolation. Offering to help with directions connects us as humans.
- Smile. Provide a genuine smile to all you pass. It costs nothing and improves their day.
This is not to say we should ignore the real problems we face. We should confront them. But we need to be working together and see the magic of the holiday season all year long – our country and world will be better for it.
David Rehr is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.