Kindness, Politics, and KYBI
If you would’ve asked me at the beginning of this year if I considered my business to be political, the answer would’ve been “no – politics don’t belong in business.”
But if you were to ask me now, my answer would be a resounding "hell yeah." And here’s why:
2020 has been discomforting in so many ways. We have all – collectively and individually – been pulled out of our safe little bubbles of existence. Some people may say they want to go back to a pre-2020 existence. I don’t.
Through everything this year has brought, I’ve learned just as much about who I want to be as who I don’t want to be, and there is absolutely no way I would’ve come to these realizations without the compounding effects of everything (seemingly) happening all at once this year.
I wasn’t raised in a political household – by that, I mean my parents never spoke about political policies with me. I was raised on simple concepts: to leave things better than I found it (whether that be in regards to a hotel room, something I borrowed, or the world itself), to be as kind as possible to others, and to do the right thing – no matter the consequences. Those concepts are instilled within me. (If you’re reading this, mom: HI THANK YOU).
But in terms of politics, I was pretty much left to draw my own conclusions. And I did – based off those three ideals that my parents raised me on. I don’t identify as democrat, and I don’t identify as republican. All I’m concerned with is leaving things better than I found it, being kind to others, and doing the right thing (and I vote based on that).
For so long, I thought doing those things meant that I couldn’t/shouldn’t be political. Maybe that used to be the case, but in this tumultuous year of 2020, it’s not anymore. Things got to the point where I felt like I was doing the wrong thing by NOT saying anything.
Because here’s the truth: as much as we want to say all of the issues of this year "shouldn’t be political issues," they ARE. It is what it is.
And if this world is really going to become a better place, we have to get political. These things will never be divorced from politics; social justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s rights, climate change, and everything in between have and always will be connected to politics.
So think about these political issues and combine them with the ideals I was raised on. Silence becomes violence. Plain and simple.
My silence (and the silence from all my white counterparts) becomes problematic in every possible way. All of a sudden I’m a person who wants to make the world a better place, but doesn’t want to actually take any action. Suddenly I have this business that preaches positivity and kindness that fails to follow through on what kindness and positivity actually look like.
More than anything, 2020 has changed my view on what positivity and kindness really are. Positivity isn’t saying “look on the bright side” only to pretend the bad things don’t exist. Kindness isn’t just holding the door open for someone and thinking you’ve done enough for the day.
What I’m realizing is that – if we’re doing it right – real kindness and positivity should be uncomfortable.
True positivity and kindness is listening to someone, actually hearing what they’re saying, and then saying, “how can I help make it better?” It’s saying “I know I’ll never truly understand, but know that your feelings are valid."
And what this year shows most importantly – true kindness and positivity is saying “I will vote for and speak up for change” instead of saying “well if we just loved one another this would all go away.” Because the issues we are facing this year are much bigger than an individual level. I think we can all agree on that – no matter the political stance.
You cannot preach positivity, kindness, and love and then NOT be willing to learn, listen, and discuss. And at this point in time, you cannot preach positivity, kindness, and love, and then not vote Donald Trump out of office.
While it’s true the political issues we are facing this year are much bigger than Donald Trump (and certainly won’t be solved by voting him out of office), getting him out of office is a start. He has created a platform for hate to exist loudly and acceptably. He is not concerned with the ideals that so many of us were raised on: leaving things better than we found it, being kind to others, and doing the right thing. He is only concerned with himself. (And no, he doesn’t care about the well-being of his supporters either, even if they keep telling themselves that he does.)
The political issues we are facing this year are much bigger than any of us, and they are too heavy a burden to carry alone. No matter what this election brings, the fight for equality and justice will not end. But we will continue to fight for it no matter what – with true kindness and positivity (not that textbook BS).
So yes – I would’ve told you my business wasn’t political at the beginning of this year. But what I didn’t know was that it was on its way.
My business is an extension of myself, and my biggest goals for it have always aligned with those three personal values I mentioned earlier. I’m glad I’ve reached a point where I’m not afraid to speak up as a business owner. People keep telling me I’m putting my business on the line when I speak up politically like this. And to that I say – no I'm not. All businesses have political values, whether you like it or not.
But for the record, if my business really was on the line, my stance would be to let it burn. I know I’m helping in the fight to make the world a better place, and that's all that matters.