Last year I got chicken pox. For the second time. This time it was triggered by getting the shingles vaccine. They give you a list of possible side effects of the shot before you get it, but don’t mention chicken pox because it is a rare side effect. One pox is annoying; two are very annoying; hundreds really take a toll on your disposition and view of the world.
Micro aggressions are like that. For those of you unfamiliar with the word, you may be familiar with the experience. The person who pulls in front of you in traffic nearly crashing into you. The person who cuts the line at the market claiming they only have a few items and you don’t mind do you. But for many people who are a different race, ethnicity or religion from the prevailing one in any community, these micro aggressions have a more destructive effect. The white person who gets off the elevator when a black man steps on it is this kind of micro aggression. Like the chicken pox, one is just annoying, but they have a cumulative dispiriting effect on the recipient.
So I propose practicing micro kindness in the year ahead. Make eye contact with the homeless person on the street corner. Let someone ahead of you in line. Take time to question your reaction to a person who is different from you. Avoid patronizing the person in the wheelchair. Greet the grumpy neighbor. In the picture above I am making a friendly overture to a dog who is potentially a menace, but I don’t seem to notice. The fence provides safety, but I am not running away. I am risking connection. I am going to try it consistently this year. Let me know if you have experiences practicing micro kindness. We can swim upstream against the tide of belligerence, bigotry and aggression.
Peace to all this new year.