Dear Zoey,

I’ve neglected these letters recently! Time to get back on track.

About a month ago, we saw the new Cinderella. We both loved it, but what struck me most was the film’s very clear thesis: “Have courage and be kind.” I don’t know that there is anything more that I want for and from you than kindness.

Baby, our society is plagued with injustice and misunderstanding and cruelty. It feels like every day I read or hear something, particularly from people I love and care about, that makes me cringe. You have no idea how many times I want to shake people around me and say, “SHUT UP AND BE NICE!” Just be nice.

And I don’t mean a passive nice. I mean an overwhelming, passionate kindness. I hope you overflow with love and empathy for all types of people. I have to remind myself of this. Because it’s easy for me to practice kindness to the downtrodden, misunderstood, and alienated people, but it’s not so easy for me to feel the same on the opposite end of the spectrum. What I remind myself every time I read articles of people justifying discrimination in the name of religion, or hear conversations attempting to justify racism (These usually start with, “I’m not a racist, but…), or see the degradation and alienation of the poor….What I remind myself is that kindness is not a one-way street. Kindness requires that you sacrifice the self-righteousness in your own gut. It means letting go of your pride, taking a breath, and choosing not to take part in things that are divisive. It means viewing every single person you come in contact with as someone with a story. It means offering compassion to everyone–especially those that anger you and make you want to scream. It is not brave to be kind to those that you agree with. That’s easy. What takes courage is choosing kindness. When being kind to someone does not come easy, but you choose to be anyway, that is brave. (And as a side note — this does not mean you aren’t open about your opinions and ideals. It means that when you come to a place of dissension, you choose kindness over your pride. Believe me, it is possible).

This is not easy for me. At all. But I’m getting there, and your sweet heart continues to inspire me.

So, above anything else, please always be kind. What you put out into this world is what will eventually come back to you — make it good.

Love you,

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