Thinking About Kindness (Again)
I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness for the past couple of weeks, mainly because I’ve seen so many people talking about the need to be kind, to forgive, to build bridges and extend an olive branch to the people who voted differently from us. As an organizer, I know that it’s important to leave the door open for people who want to find their way into a movement, that it’s important to welcome newcomers instead of berating them for taking so long. But this is key: in this example the new arrival wants to join you.
I know I’m not the only one thinking about this, of course:
The thing is, I do believe in kindness and compassion for everyone. I really do. I’ve written about having compassion for my abusers. But I’ve also written about how kindness and compassion are not the same as deference or politeness. I don’t believe that answering cruelty with cruelty is either moral or practical. Moreover, I believe that allowing someone else’s cruelty and callousness to make me cruel and callous hurts me more than anything else—only I can decide what sort of person I want to be, and letting someone else turn me into someone I don’t want to be isn’t okay with me.
But having compassion, being kind, listening, leaving the door open—none of these mean that I’m obligated to continue letting people have the power to harm me, nor do they mean that I should stop advocating for my own rights and protection.
There’s a lot more to say about all of that, of course, but I’ll leave it there. I hope you’re well, or at least as well as can be.
A Moment of Calm
What I’ve Been Up To
- This week on Keep the Channel Open I talked with photographer Jordanna Kalman. I first became acquainted with Jordanna’s Little Romances series when I saw it in the 2018 Critical Mass Top 50, and the way that she creates these wonderfully tender still lives by rephotographing her prints was right up my alley. Reading her artist statement, I discovered that the series had started in part because her nude portraits kept being taken and reposted to porn blogs, and she had wanted a way to work through the hurt of that and protect her images. It’s such an amazing thing, I think, to take an experience of anger and pain and turn it into something so gentle and intimate.
It’s #BuyArtFriday once again, so here are some items for your consideration:
- Yoffy Press has two new photobooks available: You Are Eternity, You Are the Mirror, by Marcy Palmer ($40 signed, $30 unsigned), and Passing Place, by Sandy Carson.
- Daylight Books has released a new photobook by Patrick O'Hare, titled Evanescent Cities ($45 US, $58.99 CAD)
- Peanut Press just released nine new "Peanut Portfolio" books, including books by my friends Andi Schreiber and Jennifer McClure. Each book is $125, signed and numbered, and includes a signed, numbered original print. Orders of 2 or more Peanut Porfolio books will automatically receive a 10% discount at checkout.
- Photographer Jordanna Kalman is offering three new images for her winter print sale. Prints are $75, or $200 for all three.
That’s what I have for this week. If you have art for sale or any upcoming online events, please share your links in the comments. And please support the arts however you can!
It’s Friday, so here are some things that mattered to me recently:
- Nicole Chung wrote about loss during the pandemic, about losing the comfort of in-person rituals, and about finding new ways to honor one's grief.
- Alexander Chee wrote about the black jeans that are getting him through. I think this, too, is about separation and connection across time and distance, about having something you can literally hold onto.
- Hannah Cohen wrote about her younger days as a fanfiction writer. I think it is in part about nostalgia, about community, about honing her craft. Also, though, it is about carving out a space for oneself, about making a new kind of future.
- Finally, I spent a lot of yesterday singing along with a song from a 10-year-old Sesame Street episode. It's a nostalgic song for me because it reminds me of my son as a toddler, but it's also just a catchy and warm-hearted song about togetherness that always makes me feel a little bit better.
As always, this is just a portion of what mattered to me. I know it's hard not to be with people, and more and more so as time goes on. I hope you're able to find some connection across the distance soon, if that's what you want.
Thank you, and take care.