I’m going to borrow bravery from an article sent to me from my friend Walt. In it, Thomas Friedman reminds us of the woman who stood in front of cameras speaking up about the brutal disappearance of media in Ukraine. Such stories as Marina Ovsyannikova protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s most-watched news program can fuel us with hope and ferocious activism. Friedman spells it out: “Marina Ovsyannikova – remember her name. She dared to tell the czar that he had no clothes.”
Inspiring, all the way down the spine. People like this can propel us to positive pro-action, no matter how small or large. Friedman lifts us up with other examples of bold ethical action: Wars also reveal extraordinary acts of kindness. The room-sharing site Airbnb said that people from 165 countries have booked more than 430,000 nights at Ukrainian homes on Airbnb with no intention of using the rooms – but simply in order to donate money to these Ukrainian hosts. In addition, as of March 20, about 36,000 people from 160 countries signed up through Airbnb’s nonprofit to welcome refugees fleeing Ukraine to their homes.
That’s what’s possible when people unleash their self-centeredness and give, give, give. Even the big U.S, that’s us, could tilt our narcissism and scale back our selfishness, pointing ourselves to gestures of generosity, guts, and integrity, tiny or big acts of kindness.
It’s not been an easy few years for any of us. But now, we are threatened by nuclear war. (I have to rant a bit here, I do wish to God Americans were less narcissistic and self-involved. Maybe if we had felt as horrified about the starvation in Africa, the torching and poaching of the rain forest, the slaughter in Myanmar, the grueling deaths in Afghanistan, the suffering in Syria, Turkey, the torturous clubbing of seals and on and on we would have insisted on change. Okay, I admit, crises all around have caused my trichobezoar to pile up – you know, the literal word for hairballs.)
But hey, back to hope, Friedman closes the column with a walloping gallop towards faith: “I have always argued that globalization is not just about trade. It is about the ability of countries, companies, and now, increasingly, individuals to connect and act globally. Human beings are hard-wired to want to connect, and the hard-wiring of today’s world is making it easier and cheaper for them to do so every day.”
Goodwill and change start when one of us does something with good intent and it has a ripple effect. Today I got a friendly text from an old pal of a different political persuasion. It spurred me to call someone else needing support. So, while 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes, often with just a shirt on their backs and their precious pet, I say reach out and touch somebody’s hand, make this world a better place. Use it before you lose it.
Katy Byrne, MA. LMFT has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Sonoma and the Bay Area for 35 years. She’s written two books: The Courage to Speak Up and The Power of Being Heard. Conversationswithkaty.com. 707.548.8982.