This week, United Way held its Conscious Kindness Day.
“It’s really simple: just plan something sweet for your friends, family, co-workers, neighbours (or a total stranger!) and share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #KindWPG,” United Way posted on its website.
I think it’s bullshit that we need a campaign like this to get people doing nice things.
I’m frequently told that I’m a good person for spending the night at the home of someone who is suicidal and needs company, ditching work early to drive a seriously ill friend to the doctor and living a compassionate, vegan lifestyle.
I’m not a particularly good person. In my mind, this is the absolute minimum I should be doing. As a white, cis, able-bodied human being with an excellent support system, it’d be selfish of me to not do these simple acts to make life better for people who are going through a tough time.
And the same goes for everyone else. If you’re in a pretty decent life position, like I am, I think it’s your duty as a member of society to inconvenience or put stress on yourself from time-to-time to help someone in need out.
The things suggested for Winnipeggers to do on Conscious Kindness Day are things most of us should all be doing all the time, when we’re able.
Giving up your seat on the bus: I don’t bus much these days, but I remember so many times an elderly person clearly having trouble standing on a moving bus would make it nearly to the back of the before someone would give up their seat. Now, we can’t judge anyone for not standing up because you don’t know if there’s an invisible disability, injury or pregnancy that makes sitting more comfortable, but if that’s not you, get up. You’re helping yourself by doing so, too.
Sharing food: When I first moved out of my parents home, I didn’t have a safe home. I didn’t have much money and I went hungry a lot. But when I had food, I shared it. My close friend would bring hash browns home from work to share with me and the dude downstairs would make us meals with what he found in dumpsters. It’s not difficult to hand a granola bar to folks on the street asking for help. Dollarama sells food, for fucksakes. A woman who was in a pretty shitty place herself once tried to buy me a meal because she said I looked like I needed it. Now that’s real, above and beyond kindness. If you consistently go to bed without hunger pains, you really should be helping out those who do.
Asking how someone is and listening to the answer: Are people not doing this??? Seriously???
Let’s be honest, the world is a fucked up place. There are a lot of really selfish, shitty people out there. But there are also a lot of really amazing, kind and generous folks. And then there’s the people in the middle who go through life looking out for themselves until they’re told to pay-it-forward by buying a coffee for the person ahead of them in line at the Starbucks.
Imagine if we all stepped it up and took care of one another? What if giving up seats on the bus, sharing food, listening to how others are doing, taking care of people who are ill, donating used items to social agencies and smiling at strangers were just part of our everyday lives?
That’d be a hell of a lot of love that could really make a huge difference in the world.
Living with anxiety sucks, I know. There are some specific challenges to dealing with it as a feminist, vegan and freelance writer, and I talk about those in this podcast. I’m no expert at chilling out and avoiding panic attacks, but I’m learning. Maybe we can learn together?
Podcast by Meg Crane, freelance journalist and editor. Music by Alannah Zeebeck. Artwork by Kate Winiarz and Meg Crane.
This week, I’m talking about anxiety brought on by spending too much time taking care of others. So, my plan is to take a day to take care of my needs each week and I challenge YOU to do something significant to help someone else out.