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Challenge: Open Discussion

Regardless of your politics, “Vote For Kindness” in this upcoming election!

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Our family of five spent 54 weeks building a global community, while traveling to over 41 countries(returning just 8 months before the COVID-19 outbreak). At its core, the trip was about being present and fostering empathy and wonderment in our kids (ages 12, 9, and 7 at the time). Through our journey (and our sabbaticals from our careers), we had an opportunity (and a necessity) to lean into “active parenting” in a whole new way…and upon our return, we realized that our focused time was yielding the foundation for “kindness activism” in our children.

What we now know is that you don’t have to travel around the world to lean into your role as a “parent activist,” you just need some intentionality and a good framework to turn up the HEAT (Humility → Empathy → Action → Togetherness) and transform the turmoil of our reality into the world in which we seek to live.

But what happens when we try hard as parents to affirm values of unwavering kindness and truth within the home and it is undercut by the failing character of the man who holds the most powerful office in the world? It sucks. It feels like we are pushing a boulder up a mountain because we are now suddenly tasked with norming behavior that is different and counter to the examples of global leaders and bigoted citizens ever present on the TV screens, social media clips, and out in society. And before you know it, sacred symbols of our American flag get conflated with xenophobic sentiments of “Making America Great Again” by excluding, if not violently suppressing, diversity of any kind. Enough.

We are at an inflection point and it is our responsibility to vote the values we wish to see in our children. In that spirit, I offer a different perspective on our HEAT (Humility → Empathy → Action → Togetherness) frame…now, as a filter to ensure that in this election we align our values with leadership at ALL altitudes of our community/government.

I need help with my parenting. I need to be active in co-creating the community I want my children to grow up in…the planet I hope for them to inherit and treasure. I know I can’t do it alone. And while I may not be able to control the majority of outside influences my children are exposed to, I will sure as heck, make my voice heard in elections to elect leaders who reflect good character, empathy, and kindness—so that my children have a better chance of normalizing their own behavior to make this world a better place. We have only a few days until the 2020 election and urge you to make your voice heard.

Below is a filter for who should get the honor of your vote:

H umility-E mpathy-A ction-T ogetherness

(HEAT filter for candidates that deserve your vote)

Humility: A modest view of one’s own importance. Humility helps create space to observe our surrounding environments because it removes the focus on ourselves.

Look for Candidates Who Demonstrate that they…

    • Embody the spirit of listening to, and learning from, others as a civil servant
    • Appreciate diversity in all aspects (race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and experiences)
    • Have overcome struggle whereby they are more in touch with their own privilege
    • Maintain an “attitude of gratitude” towards others in our community
    • Affirm faith in something bigger than themselves…in any power that motivates them to do and be their best towards others
    • Commit to being “deserving” of your vote

Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The recognition of our own privilege motivates us to help others.

Look for Candidates Who Demonstrate that they…

    • Model a core value that we are all interconnected; that our ability to care for others and our planet, in turn helps us to live a safer, healthier, and more fulfilled life
    • Can be WITH people in grief and their “big feelings” and use their words and platforms to diffuse anger and hate
    • Recognize and address the negative impact their actions may have caused another; Apologize and take accountability for their mistakes

Action: The fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.

Look for Candidates Who Demonstrate that they…

    • Have a data-driven plan to “act” and better our planet and society
    • Are focused on hiring teams of smart, dedicated, experienced, and competent people to help them achieve their vision
    • Have a track record of “partnering with” nations, cultures, people and organizations, instead of trying to “save” them or “co-opt the autonomy” of their voice/efforts
    • Use their platform and leadership to “help” others, rather than themselves
    • Value changing “hearts and minds” in the spirit of the greater good
    • Stand for diversity of voice and thought that challenge and redefine societal norms that perpetuate a culture of implicit bias and structural racism


Togetherness: The state of being close to another person or other people. Being and “doing” together as a community or Nation, in a consistently safe environment for ALL of its constituents, creates security and a sense of belonging. With that foundation, community members are more likely to stay vulnerable, humble, and therefore motivated to lean-in for the collective good.

Look for Candidates Who Demonstrate that they will…

    • Prioritize the needs of the vulnerable among us—children, elders, and others who are ill or marginalized
    • Value and protect the sanctity of family (in all forms and structures)
    • Champion a vision of communal/national/global unity; and will work hard for ALL Americans, regardless of political party or belief
    • Lift others up and refrain from putting others down
    • Uphold the dignity of the elected office/position and utilize a strong work-ethic to get the job done

Elections are opportunities to create new societal norms, new influences, and messengers for our children. Why does our voice matter? Who we put into office as leaders of our community, at all altitudes of government, serve as role models to normalize behavior for our next generation. Kids won’t understand or remember the intricacies of a divided House of Representatives on pushing through particular legislation, but they will remember expressions of anger, hate, and name-calling in interviews. If we expect kindness and justice from our kids, in how they respect others, cooperate at school, and build community, we must be active in choosing candidates not just on their “doing” but mostly on their way of “being.” #VoteForKindness

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For more thoughts on parent activism visit www.AilaMalik.com and connect via social media (Instagram: @AilaMalikAuthor and @Franklin_Street_Globetrotters). Learn more about a collaboration on the “Kindness Collection” with www.CULK.co to spread the message of “Vote with Your Heart.”

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