Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Rural Kindness Day, Every Day

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, by Sara Jewell.
Celebrating with Mary Purdy after she won the gift basket at Sunday's book launch.

I’m writing this in a fog of exhaustion, elation, humility and thankfulness.
In other words, I’m blown away by the support from friends and readers in Cumberland County.

This past Sunday, we celebrated the publication of my book, Field Notes: A City Girl’s Search for Heart and Home in Rural Nova Scotia, with the official book launch in Pugwash.
This is my first book so it was the book launch I’ve always longed for but it turns out, the celebration itself, with sixty people in attendance, was beyond my wildest expectations.
It came at the end of a difficult week for some of us who didn’t want Donald Trump elected president; who have mixed-race family in the United States and are now worried about them; who believe so deeply in the power of love and kindness and justice that we can’t bear the stories of intolerance we’ve been hearing.
It came after Remembrance Day, our most important commemoration, which reminds us of who gave their lives for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and just plain freedom of existence.

It was a difficult week because it reminded me that several years ago, someone referred to local Muslims from Lebanon as “Pakis” and I said nothing. I didn’t know what to say but I also knew nothing I said would change his behaviour or his attitude. It bothers me that I’m not good at speaking up to defend people, especially people who are now my friends.
I write from a position of white, middle-class privilege so I don’t know what it’s like to be truly persecuted, disenfranchised, and afraid. Yet as a woman, I know what it is like to choose silence over speaking out because it will be your word against his and you were raised to not cause a scene.
It was a difficult week. Then the book launch happened.
People came together to celebrate a book. Publishing is still alive and thriving!
People came together to celebrate a book about rural Nova Scotia. Rural communities are still alive and surviving!
Not only that, Sunday, November 13 was World Kindness Day.

So I’d like to share part of the Facebook post my dear friend Mary Purdy wrote on Sunday evening because this, my friends, this is what we are:
What are you doing to add more kindness in your life? I was at Sara Jewell's book launch in Pugwash, and to see so many people hugging each other, beautiful. To see so many people show up in support of Sara and to celebrate her success, an act of kindness by a community. And then there was the gift basket I was fortunate to win, the delicious cookies, Sara's tears. I felt kindness and care filling the room. I feel so blessed to live in this community and to see kindness modeled in so many ways by so many people.
I am humbled and grateful for the support of this community and this county, which, happily and hopefully, includes Muslims. This is the place I’m proud to call home. And I mean that from my heart.

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