Practicing Wild Kindness (in the midst of turmoil)

I have a cousin who is a school-based Social Worker and Peaceful Parenting Coach, (>shameless plug< **Confluence Parenting, LLC.) He’s married to a dedicated, creative, tenacious public school Math teacher. They are also parents to two totally awesome young boys. As hard as the last couple weeks have been for all of us, I think it’s fair to say it’s been absurdly too much for them.

And yet, in the middle of it all, my cousin posted this John Roedel poem on social media:

when the worldgoes madbecome wildly kindto everyoneeveryoneeveryoneeveryone

my love,~ you can’t controlmuchbut you control howyou treat othersin these breaking newsheartbreaking times

when nothing feelscertainlet your raw kindnessbe a certaintyallow your compassionto become a North Starstamped up inthe sky forothers to followback home

Wildly Kind…

That phrase is sticking to me like my shadow: “Wildly kind.” I made a teeshirt once many years ago, not so much as a statement to others, but as a challenge to myself as I move about the world. It reads: “I will love the humans… I will love the racist humans… I will love the homophobic humans…I will love the misogynistic humans… I will love the scared humans… I will love the humans…”

I will absolutely not love the awful things that humans do. In fact, I will do everything I can to address, influence and make sustainable change in all these areas and any other area where humanness is doing harm. And, I will love the fragile people beneath the unacceptable behavior, (even when it’s at an enormous distance for safety’s sake.)

This is why I’m such a broken record about “separating personhood from behavior.” It keeps us out of the trap of being too close to truly dangerous and unhealthy people in the name of not “rejecting” them as people. Likewise, it helps us resist being trapped by shame in our own hurtful behavior. This distinction is the thing that gives us what we need to work with (at least some) others toward a common goal of a healthier, saner country and community when someone’s poorly directed humanness brutalizes other people, especially

when we disagree on how.

This is one way to “become wildly kind/ to everyone/ everyone/ everyone.” Everyone. Including those who do awful things, and those who disagree on how to heal the circumstances that made the awful things possible.

Competitive Non-Action Trying to manage shooting after shooting, especially of and by young people, makes most of us scramble to cope. To cope, we often grab the first thing that starts to make some kind of meaning out of what happened. We sometimes become like those people who say the most ridiculously, hurtfully tone-deaf things at funerals, like equating a parent’s death to the death of a gerbil. (True story, unfortunately.)

I believe the logic string goes something like this:

  • We feel overwhelmed by a loss we can’t fathom.
  • We imagine that the other person is feeling the same thing we are feeling, or we imagine that we are feeling their (Hint: That’s not what empathy is.)
  • We want to stop feeling these awful feelings.
  • We try to make them stop by offering whatever instant “make it better” we can come up with in the scrambled moment.
  • Open mouth. Insert foot. If it doesn’t go over well, double down on insisting that we know what the other person is feeling.

Thus, gerbils. This is not wildly kind to anyone.

Neither are the “camps” of people who demand that their way of trying to stop violence is the only way. It comes from the same kind of grappling with our awful feelings.

You can pretty much guess the roll out before it even happens: Camp A – We must change gun laws! Camp B – We must teach our children to respect one another and the community! Camp C – We need to pray more! Camp D – We must stop bullying in schools! Camp E – We must teach our kids morals like we had back in the day! Camp F –

(shooter is Caucasian,) We must improve mental health access! Camp G – (shooter is any kind of light brown immigrant,) We must shut down our borders! Camp H – (shooter is highly melanated,) We must crack down on crime in the inner city! (As if that’s the only place highly melanated people live and that is the only thing that would cause a highly melanated person to do such a thing.) Camp I – (shooter has a criminal record,) We need longer sentences for violent crime! Camp J – (shooter has a criminal record,) We must end Prison-for-Profit and shift to Restorative Justice! And on and on and on, with each “camp” insisting that their

focus is the only focus that should get the Nation’s attention, get legislated and get funded.

And then 3…2… 1… Our vehemence fades, our attention turns and we go back to our regularly scheduled lives, already in progress. It happens again. We wear tee shirts and ribbons, we march, we rail against the evil that makes the most sense to us on social media. Nothing changes. It happens again. We have the same response. Nothing changes.

To Everyone… Everyone… Everyone… What if, instead, we exercised “wild kindness” toward everyone? What if we stopped playing along with the fantasy that our interventions are in competition with one another? What if we sat down together and respectfully considered ways that each agenda could support the betterment of the community? What if we stopped using horrible events to push our agendas, get certain people elected, make us look like “the good ones” on social media and instead practiced “wild kindness” by turning our attention to hearing one another, moving forward together, respectfully, collaboratively?

my love,~ you can’t controlmuchbut you control howyou treat others…let your raw kindnessbe a certaintyallow your compassionto become a North Star

I’m working at becoming “wildly kind.” I hope you will too.

(** Note: If you’re interested in my cousin Brandon Miller’s Peaceful Parenting coaching, you can find him here: after June 8, 2022, on Facebook, or on Instagram @confluenceparenting.) ....................................................................................................................................................

Being wildly kind toward our fellow humans when their humanning rubs us all kinds of wrong is very difficult. If you’d like support in working that out, contact Tiffany today.