One day during the winter months, as I walked across the parking lot of my apartment complex, I found one of those jelly bracelets with these words on it: “KINDNESS MATTERS.” I decided to put it in my car in a place where I could see it while I driving the 250-300 miles that I do each week. I did this not because I need to be reminded to be kind, but because there are an awful lot of people on the roadways that need to be reminded. By keeping this mantra in view, I intended to energize a kinder, gentler driving experience for myself and for everyone else around me.
In March, Donna Ruvolo decided that she needed to stand up to the increasing lack of civility being experienced by children and youth during the school day and at athletic events. She e-mailed as many people as she could asking her contacts to stand up to bullying and hate speech. Thus galvanized, a group of adults gathered to organize what is now being called the “Stand Up Campaign.” Fifty people met at First Church on March 29th to discuss these issues which are affecting kids locally as well as nationally. Taunts and jeers from peers, who are hiding behind the verbal and physical attacks, negative pronouncements and hate speech that are all too common in this year’s primary campaigning, have become much too vitriolic to not do something.
There will be a second public gathering on May 1st from 1-4 pm at the Belmont Public Library. The group plans to offer ways to change the dynamic to one of community conversations.
At First Church in Belmont, we strive to raise caring kids who know what it means to be kind and compassionate; who strive to live their lives according to our seven UU principles. I share with you a few ideas and resources on promoting kindness and civil discourse.
There is a series on WBUR called, Kind World, stories of kindness and how one act can change our world (www.wbur.org/series/kindworld). The episode I heard this past week, #22: Chocolate Bar, focused on how a 9 year-old boy helped a friend with a rare and life-threatening medical condition. This boy started a fundraising effort that has helped researchers gain needed financial support. He wanted to raise a million dollars; he has succeeded and surpassed that goal.
Daily acts of kindness are shared in a Facebook Group that I belong to; these can be experiences for which we are on the giving or the receiving end. It boosts spirits to focus on these moments of loving human-kindness. Participating in random acts of kindness actually changes our neural networks, releases endorphins and promotes de-stressing our lives. Consider starting your own Facebook kindness campaign.
I see similarities between the positive approach of these media-based initiatives, Belmont citizen’s Stand Up Campaign and the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love initiatives (www.standingonthesideoflove.org/).
If you haven’t seen the National Geographic film called Celebrate What’s Right With the World, I encourage you to find it on Netflix. Rather than putting our attention on the negativity in our society all of the time, it is important to celebrate what is good and right in our lives and the lives of our siblings all over the earth.
The Stand Up Campaign is one way to call attention to the need for kindness in our lives. Community conversations are a proven way to make connections and develop relationships. I was part of such a program up in Lewiston, Maine after Somali Muslim immigrants were told to leave by the mayor of the city. (See The Letter, a documentary film about what happened there in 2002-2003.) Bridging what divides us leads to healing and reconciliation. Kindness matters.
With loving human kindness,
~ Charlotte Lehmann
Mark Your Calendars – Events of Interest to Families
- “Pariah,” film showing, 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27th – a Forty to None Day event. The film, “Pariah” will be shown this evening with a discussion of issues related to LGBT youth homelessness following the movie. According to True Colors, “approximately 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), yet LGBT young people make up less than 7% of the general youth population.” The goal of True Colors is to reduce the disproportionate percentage from 40% to none (org/40tononeday/).
- Stand Up Campaign, 1-4 p.m., Sunday, May 1st at the Belmont Public Library. If you are concerned about the deterioration of public, civil discourse, please join Donna Ruvolo and other concerned citizens for this event.
CRE Volunteer Opportunities for All at FCB
- Sign up to teach in any of the CRE classes on Sunday mornings: tinyurl.com/teachCRE. You will need to have recent background check (done by FCB in the last 2 years) or submit a new one using the form on-line: uubelmont.org/coriandsori/.
- Would your family like to lead the Chalice Lighting during the worship service one Sunday this year? CRE is coordinating this effort to involve families in this element of the worship service on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. Click to sign-up: tinyurl.com/chalicelighting. You will receive an e-mail reminder.
- Non-parent teacher-volunteers are needed to assist our Childcare Provider, Denise Azar, in the Nursery at 9 and 11 am each Sunday. You can easily sign-up for this volunteer opportunity here: tinyurl.com/sundaynursery. You will receive an e-mail reminder.
Children’s Religious Education Program Registration and Information:
If you haven’t registered your children for CRE, please do so ASAP using the registration link found on the Children’s Religious Education page of the FCB website (www.uubelmont.org/childrens-re/) which allows you to register children from birth through 12thgrade. All children must be registered for CRE.
~ Charlotte Lehmann, Acting Director of Children’s Religious Education
Office hours: Tues-Weds, 10am-6pm. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.