Dear ACHE of MA Community,
We wanted to send out holiday wishes to all who are partaking in the diverse celebrations that happen all across the Commonwealth at this time of year. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, the Solstice and others are all holidays that are unique, with different focuses and types of giving. But they also share a common focus on life, light, community, and giving during this, the darkest month of the year. The holidays celebrate the bonds with your community and those you love. They also celebrate the year that was and make a recommitment to do better in the year to come.
As we look for a common theme for the month, kindness stands out. Acts of kindness toward others, a sense of kindness for self, and remembering to make kindness central to everything you do. Kindness opens you up to understanding and appreciating others more, leading to feelings of togetherness and solidarity.
Reflecting on the holidays (and having already kicked it off with Hanukkah!), I’m reminded of how the act of giving is a profound meditation on kindness. When giving, you first have to focus outside yourself. You need to think about another from their perspective: what do they like, what do they have, what would surprise and delight them? This focus on another is so integrated into the act of gift giving, that we sometimes take it for granted. The first step is to think kindly and refocus your thoughts, but the next step is to act. Setting aside the time and resources to do something special for someone else. To go out of one’s way to face the crowds (or the internet!) to get a gift. These are dedicated acts of compassion and caring that can sometimes get lost in the rush and the crowds. At times it can feel like a hassle-something one has to do. It’s important to remember why you’re doing it: to deliver gift wrapped kindness to someone you care for. Which brings us to the wrapping. You’re not just casually handing over the item, you are presenting the recipient with a gift wrapped in beauty and love. The selection of the right paper, the careful cutting, folding and taping; you are completing a ritual to imbue your gift with kindness you direct toward the gift itself. The wrapping paper serves to delight and entice the receiver, who will then rip through all your careful work, but you don’t care – their joy and happiness is what it was all for!
December celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities (Dec. 3rd) and Human Rights Day (Dec. 10th). Important reminders that we are all human and deserve dignity, friendship, and kindness. It is fitting that the month also includes International Human Solidarity Day (Dec. 20th), a day focused on qualities like giving, sharing, and lifting up others. The United Nations Millennium Declaration defined solidarity in a way that captures what this season is all about:
Solidarity Global challenges must be managed in a way that distributes the costs and burdens fairly in accordance with basic principles of equity and social justice. Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most.
This is an international policy position that comes from a focus on kindness toward all, and one that we are striving for as a society that becomes more of a focus this time of year. Let’s always remember to carry it with us in every month of every year. Wishing everyone a happy holidays and a bright new year!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. – The 14th Dalai Lama
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. – Aesop
Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle. – Charles Glassman
My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart. – Maya Angelou
-The ACHE of Massachusetts Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Penned by Alex Schwarzer, MBA, MPH, Division Manager
Division of Genetics and Genomics, Department of Pediatrics | Boston Children’s Hospital
ACHE of MA DEI Committee Member