Friday, November 24th, 2017

Spreading kindness to counter divisiveness

Posted on November 08, 2017 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Editorial Staff

Every November, political signs line the sides of roads and keep mailboxes company at the end of driveways. Names of politicians or short, urgent messages telling voters to select either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on their ballot are poignantly present. Since the 2016 presidential election, the intensity of political signs has escalated around the state of Maine. On a backroad traveled on only by locals in South Berwick, a handmade plywood sign was displayed that read, “Hillary for Prison, Trump for President.” Within days, the sign was vandalized and rebuilt.

The advocation for peace through political signs was born through this time of great political contrast. According to the Bangor Daily News (BDN), one Mainer is attempting to spread love and kindness through signs. Amid political signs are a series of large white placards with massive red hearts painted on them. Peter Baldwin has invested his time and energy into spreading positivity in the world. During an interview with BDN, Baldwin said, “There was such divisiveness over last year’s election on both sides. It boils down to: “where is the love?” Others have opted to put intricate signs calling for peace in their yards, reading, “Hate has no home here.”

During a time in the United States where the nation has been deeply divided and has crevices made out of hate, now is the time more than ever to acknowledge simplicity, kindness, love and all of the aspects of being a human.

There are many boxes and labels that, while intended to foster belonging and solidarity, also impose clear lines of difference. Difference in and of itself isn’t bad, it’s actually a good thing. But all too often people lose sight of the importance of being human to one another. Of the 7 billion people on this planet, there are things which are common across the board. Each person is human. Each human breathes, wishes, dreams, hopes, cries, loves and searches for connection and belonging. Every human needs another person at some time or another. Being human means treating others with respect and care, despite differences.

In the brief moment before snapping a photo, Kevin Carter had a decision to make: take a once-in-a-lifetime photograph, or be someone who, for once in a little girl’s life, would take the time to care. He chose the former. He won his Pulitzer and he gained a long desired fame with his piece titled “The Vulture and the Little Girl.” But he also carried with him for the rest of his days the guilt of choosing his role as a photographer over his role as a human. This type of choice happens every single day at varying levels of severity. The trouble is, over time people have become more desensitized to the guilt of refusing, or failing, to be human towards one another. Reputation, position, titles, fear, pride and other ‘’important’’ things prevent people from being human to one another.  

What happened to caring about a person simply because they’re human? Why is a political bumper sticker on a car the deciding factor in whether or not to pull over and help someone change their tire? Why is recognition more important than a life? It’s time to focus on reaching out to others as equals, as humans who are all experiencing life at the same time. It’s time to offer a hand of help, hope, love and support. You never know when you’ll be looking for an encouraging smile, or just need someone to care. That support may come from the least expected sources.

As Roy Bennett once said, “Do not let the roles you play in life make you forget that you are human.”

We are all humans, we will all need help at some point and we’re all in this together. So let’s ignore the titles, the reputations and the differences and simply stand together, support each other, and be human. Let us replace our differences with the sentiment of Baldwin and spread love over all else.