blairknobel-headshotThe Giving Issue is our yearly celebration and reflection of the humbling acts of charitable donation, work, and time. Perhaps more than recent years, the theme resonates keenly as we stand on the brink of new leadership for our country. Though, at this printing, the outcome remains unclear, one thing appears certain: we have an undercurrent of dissonance, which destroys rather than strengthens.
There are many potential reasons for discord, but my intention isn’t to propose them. What I would like to suggest is a means of repair, something that I believe to be the restorative salve for our times, for anytime. Perhaps the most crucial, singular thing that anyone can do is to be kind. It’s an egalitarian action that we all can enjoy and which can lead—almost immediately—to a positive result.
While giving takes many shapes, from donations to volunteerism, we each have the power and opportunity to choose kindness. It is the simplest, most affordable, effective, available, and doable thing. We celebrate individuals and organizations who have made giving a prominent part of their lives, if not the most important. But the fact is, we do not need anything to be kind. It begins with our attitude. Our presence. Our action. With us, quite literally.
We can change the world with kindness. It sounds campy, for sure. Cliché, certainly. Idealistic, absolutely. What’s wrong with that? It is the most accessible, democratic form of giving. We all can do it. All of us. With a nod, a gesture, a smile. An acknowledgment of life, rather than an action that cuts, depletes, and diminishes.
Why, then, would we choose to put cruelty above care, grudges over olive branches? We have our reasons, no doubt. I’m no stranger to destructive feelings and experiences. But the more I think of it, the more it makes absolute sense: to be kind, to take the high road, to remain just, to acknowledge the aspect of humanness in another is the finest expression of self, the purest—and most vital—opportunity to give. And to receive, too.

Blair Knobel


Twitter / Instagram: @LBKNOBEL


International artist Erwin Redl’s light-centric installations span ten neighborhoods in Spartanburg. For the story, click here.