Exercise that kindness muscle

Woke up to the terror attack news in New Zealand. Almost Pavlovian, my brain got into its usual analytical mode. I began to scan my Twitter timeline for updates and development — my brain in its full force digesting and critically digesting every part of news — the growing cycle of hatred, the rise of fascism, the ignorance that some comments are spewing, the growing populism, that we do not need to retweet the videos and images because amplification is exactly what the perpetrator wants, and so on so forth.

But then my shoulders grew heavy. My heart is heavy. We do not have to do this. We do not have to live like this. I decided to take refuge in books, as usual, when the world gets too much to bear. I think of how many people who have the choice to retreat elsewhere when the world gets too much to bear, and how many don’t. My heart grows even heavier.

It hasn’t been an easy week — it would be selfish of me to say this as an individual, because it is not. A week earlier, Malaysian women and our allies were marching along the streets of Kuala Lumpur with 5 demands that were made perfectly visible on an 8-meter signage carried along with them during the march. The demands clearly state:

  • End all violence based on gender and sexual orientation
  • Ban all child marriages
  • Ensure our rights and freedom to make choices over our own bodies and lives
  • Ensure dignified minimum wage of MYR1,800
  • Destroy patriarchy and build genuine democracy at all levels of society

The march received a huge amount of online backlash, and many of those who marched were harassed, doxxed and received death threats. It doesn’t help that yesterday, the government decided to investigate the organisers of the march on the allegation of illegal assembly (when they clearly requested for permit prior to the march) and sedition (???) on the grounds that the march was promoting “LGBT values” (????).

I don’t mean to ride on the news of the terror attack, I am sorry. I find it just sickening that a number of people around us still have to justify the legitimacy of our existence in this world.

I have no idea how to end this, so here’s Emily Esfahani Smith on kindness:

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise.

Hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them as much as possible. Exercise that kindness muscle with people around you.

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