Building An Invisible Army
You wake up, bit of a blur. Didn’t really sleep as well or wake up when you had hoped. You throw some clothes on and head out to grab a couple of things before the day starts. Not really paying attention, as you are focused on the task at hand, want to get back to bed, and are watching thoughts on what the day might bring rush through your head. Then something interrupts all that and brings you back to the present. Someone along the way stops you and says hello. But it just feels different. Wasn’t just a nod because you happened to make eye contact. They're looking right at you, giving you a smile. They say good morning. They follow that asking about how you are and how today is going so far. You can feel they genuinely hope you're doing well.
That authenticity just hits different. That positive energy emanating from another person who likely had to interact with you (at the store, front desk, etc.) but chose to make it something special makes you feel better. It makes you want to be better. It was never necessary but it's certainly a better way of being and whoever initiates it is brightening the world around them.
This happened to me a couple weeks ago as I was heading back into my building early in the morning. One of the building team members engaged me in a really genuine good morning / quick check in. Up until that point I was a bit on edge and fed up with the day already. I was just trying to form and execute a list of action items in my head. This interaction brought me back to the present. It changed my headspace which I carried throughout the day - how I was interacting with others, what I chose to do, and how I looked at the day as whole.
It's not that these were knew concepts for me, it's that day to day you can often lose your way or simply forget. Being mindful and focused on your long-term personal and character goals takes deliberate effort and choice like anything else. That interaction at this time in my life happened to strike a chord.
I think the emotional and social issues that we seek solutions for, the essence of those solutions can be found in these moments. The choice of looking up and smiling, of stopping to make time to brighten someone else's day, and overall sprinkling well-intended authenticity throughout the world around you.
"We're going to change the world you know … you and me."
Ben Hunt writes a lot about the social and economic landscape in our society. How those in power are making choices in bad faith to serve their own goals and the goals of their cohorts. He also details how movements across all political spectrums are over-simplifying problems and/or spreading narratives that only hurt their own goals and don’t address the root issue. He is a great writer that calls attention to issues in a more poignant way from the perspective of a citizen journalist - something I find refreshing.
Among all his commentary, his inception article gives a fiery monologue culminating in how we as individuals can change the world. I won't attempt to summarize this piece except for 1 point specifically - that changing the world is done with many small acts by individuals. To make the choice to be an individual. To live a wholehearted, well-intended, and authentic life. Not because a politician or activist told you it is right. Because you know it to be right in your heart and in your bones. To look at the world as a place you can make better. To treat your fellow humans with respect and dignity and empathy. To live life on your terms but ensuring you treat others the way you hope to be treated. To promote knowledge and the act of creating something new and meaningful. To take agency over your actions and how you want to live your life.
To create an invisible army of kindness and greatness. People who are independently changing the world around them by focusing on the small interactions and decisions they make, and choosing the path of progress and to do what's right and good. A more cynical person can sit here and say this is all subjective and what makes this matter or different from anything else. I had the same thought. But I think you know what it is I intend and that is for you to decide.
So as you think back to that otherwise forgettable interaction I had, that moment carries the essence of the energy I am trying to capture. As that energy gets put out into the world, it is simultaneously drawing more out of the world as well, spreading it further. And overtime, you can make things brighter than they were before you arrived. Who knows what this energy in typically fleeting moments can mean to someone. What that person will choose to do that day because of that energy. And so on forever. These interactions build a silent army. Not an organized force, but a wind like energy. A wave of goodness that results in a collective power and change we seek in the world.
There is much to do, so many ways to help, so many things that need improvement, and so many heroes needed - but treating each other well is something we all hold within us. Remembering we are all humans and individuals. That we all feel. And remembering and caring about that makes us better as individuals and as a community.
See you tomorrow.
Inspiration: Ben Hunt, Choosing kindness
Quote: Ben Hunt