As the headlines lurch from one crisis to another, nothing seems right. We fret, we argue, we even end friendships over a difference of opinion, exemplifying the new normal.

Even advertising nowadays has a look that ruffles feathers, and I don’t mean just those that sing about medications that can kill you. Take, for example, USA Today’s recent, “Topless Ad Is Progress or a Step Back?”

The piece leads with: “Twenty-five pairs of faceless breasts in different shapes, sizes, and skin colors were the focus of an Adidas campaign last month—and the Internet had a lot to say about it. From praise to confusion to disgust…”

In case you’re wondering, it was a pitch for sports bras and came with mixed reviews. Juliet Williams, a gender studies professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, saw it this way: “… It’s incredibly tragic that all women grow up believing that, unless they have the breasts of a well-endowed white woman, they’re defective. The fact that somebody can see in this ad that that’s a lie, that’s really great …”

Meanwhile, from COVID and Putin to inflation, shortages, homelessness, city crime, and climate change, division reigns. Even “where happiness lives,” Disney employees are walking off the job in protest.

Anger everywhere…

We’re bombarded daily with bad news, and somehow many can’t get enough of it. There’s even a name for that now: “Doomscrolling.” In her article, USA Today’s Jessica Guinn suggests that, instead we:

  1. “Monitor sleep, mood”
  2. “Set time constraints, take breaks”
  3. Watch a cat video, take a walk”
  4. “Turn negative into a positive”

She ends her piece with, “You might need professional help.”

For me, the antidote is 11-year-old Orion Jean, TIME Magazine’s 2021 Kid of the Year and Ambassador for Kindness who says, “If you see a problem, fix it.”

In Angelina Jolie’s article, she explains that, when the pandemic began, he saw much suffering and decided he wanted to do something to help. A teacher suggested he enter a speech contest. If he won, he knew just what he’d do with the prize money: Start a “kindness initiative.” And he did on both counts.

With community help, he’s put together hundreds of thousands of meals, toys, and books for needy families in 2020.

He says:

  • “… Kindness is a choice, and while you can’t force others to be kind, we can be kind ourselves and hope to inspire other people. So many people have great ideas but never act on them…”
  • “I think that one of the things about being kind is that you perk up when you hear other people being unkind or when you hear about people that aren’t doing the right thing. And it makes you sad inside. And like I said, kindness is a choice…”
  • “Yeah, I think that kindness sometimes can just be as easy as not being mean to someone. Not talking about someone behind their back or posting that mean comment on social media. That’s what kindness can be; it can just be as simple as not being cruel to someone.”
  • “I’ve always loved books ever since I can remember. I’ve always had a book in my hand waking up, going to bed. And I knew that after the race to 100,000 meals, which was another initiative I’ve done, I knew that wanted to be able to do something bigger that would reach more people. I’ve always been trying to get my friends to like, you know, ‘Read this book with me!’ or ‘We’re gonna do, like a mini book club,’ or something.” But now that I have the platform, I wanted to be able to reach more people, and to me, literacy is something that can get you off the ground. It can allow you to eventually get that good job or out of the neighborhood. Or maybe it’s just a way for you to escape from your everyday life, and to read a new story about a new culture or a new person and find out something you didn’t know before.”

And he’s just gotten started–has now even written a book, A Kid’s Book about Leadership.

Out of the mouth of a babe, lessons in living for all of us that need to be shared.

~ With my thanks and happy holiday wishes, Carol