Humans are amazing. Really, they are.
Our news outlets have a tendency to glorify the monsters and celebrate the darkest and deadliest aspect of human behavior, but when we search our hearts and reflect on our own observations and experiences, we cannot deny that most people in this world are good. Many are great. If that were not true, we simply would not have made it this far as a species.
I know many of you personally. I marvel at your generosity, altruism, and wholehearted efforts to make the world a better place. While some of you are working wonders in visibly heroic ways, many of you do your magic in quiet, hidden ways – volunteering your time, standing up for the less fortunate, or lending a hand to help a neighbor in need. I am continually humbled when I think about the goodness of your actions and the beauty of your Spirits.
Every now and again, the media captures a story that underscores this beauty. Sometimes it is a simple act that goes viral on social media. Sometimes it is an intentionally sought out story of epic feel-good proportions.
There are several stories that have caught my attention in recent months (and years), which I wish to share with you. Each story is different, but there is a common theme, a unifying thread, a timeless Truth, and an awe-inspiring look into the potency of love, forgiveness, and transformation.
While it may sometimes feel like the world is harboring a greater capacity for hate and conflict, these videos tell a different story.
Dismantling Extreme Hate
The first story is about Arno Michaelis, a former (violent) skinhead who says “I am here today because people that I claimed to hate had the courage to set an example of humanity for me…they treated me with kindness when I least deserved it, but when I needed it most.” His remarkable story is powerful beyond words, and it was made possible by everyday people like you.
Now, Arno is using his life experience to transform others and help victims of hate crimes heal.
In the next story, we see the words of Arno play out before our eyes, when Michael Kent (former neo-Nazi, white supremacist) tells his story of how a black woman, Tiffany Whittier, softened his heart and opened him up to the possibility of a life of smiles and positivity. “If you have a strong support system and you have people that believe in you in a positive way, you can change…she gave me the strength and courage to do what I am doing.”
Kindness has a way of disarming hate. Forgiveness and love have a way of converting enemies into friends, and melting seemingly irreconcilable wounds into connections of possibility and wonder.
Check out the extraordinary story of Elwin Wilson and Congressman John Lewis. Elwin was a racist who committed acts of violence against minorities and others. As he got older, these acts began to weigh on him, and when Obama got elected in 2008, he had a sudden transformation, which led to an unlikely meeting and public reconciliation.>
Consider the unlikely friendship of Ian Manuel and Debbie Baigrie. Ian shot Debbie in the face when he was 13 years old. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. What unfolded next is truly a miracle.
In my last blog post, I made the case for open and diverse networks. When we step out of our comfort zone and connect with people who look and think different from us, we put ourselves in a unique position to learn, grow, and innovate.
Garry Civitello is a shining example of what it means to step out of your comfort zone and connect with difference. When he took a small, and uncomfortable step, his life changed forever. He took his prejudice and turned it into precious connection and friendship.
If Garry’s story touches a deep chord, consider the life and work of Daryl Davis. He is bridging divides in a radically unexpected way. Daryl is a black musician who actively seeks out connection and conversation with the KKK. Take a look and see how and why Daryl makes this a regular part of his life’s work.
Love and Courage
In this last video, we see what happens (and experience the essence of how one feels) when hateful energy is met with love and courage. Meet Jagmeet – the Sikh-Canadian politician who won the hearts of so many, when a simple meet-and-greet turned into so much more.
My friends, we live in uncertain times when it appears that hate is on the rise. But make no mistake – the true goodness of the human Spirit is alive and well. It continues to transform souls and seep into the hardest of hearts. It heals and reconnects in magical and unpredictable ways. It happens through people like you. Small, simple acts weaving into a grand tapestry of spiritual deliciousness.
What stories or videos have you come across that evoke profound feelings of human redemption and hope? I would love to collect more.
Let’s use these stories as timeless examples of what is Divine about our humanity. Let these stories inspire us about what is possible for our planet and the human race.
Through kindness and love, everyday heroes are changing the world from a place of disconnected isolation and separation to a home of unity and joy.
There is so much to be hopeful for.
Have a blessed holiday season.
Vikas Narula (@NarulaTweets) is Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs (@Keyhubs) – a software and services company specializing in the power and wisdom of human networks, connection, and crowd-sourced sentiment. He is also Founder of Neighborhood Forest – a social venture dedicated to giving free trees to kids every Earth Day.
Other Recent Blog Posts:
Stepping Outside the Bubble – The Case for Open and Diverse Networks
Ode to Resilience – A Reflection on 2016