In airports and metro stations, I often see signs that say, “If You See Something, Say Something.” It’s a request from law enforcement to notify them if you see any dangerous or suspicious activity.
This past weekend, I hosted three of my dearest friends for Girls Weekend at a home in eastern Oregon where I’m housesitting for the month of July. During the day, we kayaked and picnicked and explored the Columbia River and Wallowa Lake. In the evenings, we made dinner and sat around talking until waaaaaaay too late into the night.
I had the idea to do a Question Jar. We each wrote five questions on separate scraps of paper, and then put them into the jar. When it was your turn, you had to close your eyes and pick one of the questions from the jar and answer it — and then everyone else had to answer it, too.
Some questions were light-hearted, like Who was your first kiss? If 2016 was a movie, which song would be the soundtrack? What are the best 3 things that have happened to you over the past year?
But there was one question that really stood out. Someone wrote the question, What 3 adjectives would you use to describe each girl in this room?
The first girl took her turn. Then the rest of us took our turns, too, describing what we liked best about each other.
Words like resilient, sassy, funny, compassionate, generous, inspiring and faithful filled the room.
That question led to another hour of conversation, where we each shared more about our favorite memories of each other. I realized that, while I cherish my friends and try to stay in frequent contact and encourage them as well as I can, I don’t often explicitly express to them what I like and remember most about them.
During our evening of conversation, which lasted until well after midnight, I had the opportunity to tell one friend how her giggle always makes me smile. I had the chance to tell another friend how proud I am of her for navigating a difficult, tumultuous year. I got to tell another friend how thankful I was for her taking care of me when I was recovering from surgery.
We teared up. We shared our hearts. We hugged. We laughed. And we all went to sleep feeling built-up, loved, seen and encouraged.
Last week, a lot of bad things happened in our world. Hundreds killed in Turkey, police officers ambushed, vitriolic political exchanges.
Another story that caught my attention was the model who took a picture of an unsuspecting, overweight, naked woman showering in the gym locker room. She posted it on Snapchat with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this, you can’t unsee this.” (The model lost her radio job, was banned from the gym for life and is now under investigation.)
It got me thinking that, while we witness hate on a mass scale, it doesn’t start with armies; it starts with individuals. One mean person, one twisted idea, one hateful thought, one negative encounter, one spiteful Snapchat, Tweet, comment or post.
Which means that we can begin to heal our world one person at a time, too. One kind person, one innovative idea, one generous thought, one positive encounter, one encouraging Snapchat, Tweet, comment, post or late-night conversation.
If the world seems dark, helpless, overwhelming and negative this morning, maybe try this today: If you see something good, say something kind.
Call or email a friend or family member and tell them what you love about them. Compliment a stranger on her shoes. Smile at a store clerk and thank him for his help. Make a positive comment on a blog post or article. Encourage a coworker who’s having a bad day. Go out of your way to speak goodness into the world instead of multiplying anger and spite.
If we each do this today, we’ll go to sleep feeling much better than we did when we woke up this morning. Instead of feeling hopeless, angry and depressed, we might feel just a little more built-up, hopeful, loved, encouraged and seen. And maybe when we wake up tomorrow morning, we’ll see even more goodness — and speak even more kindness — into our beautiful, broken world.