Being a good person is enough

On the cover of this week’s PGN is “Remember Them.” It’s a feature about the trans and nonbinary people in the U.S. who were murdered in the past twelve months, and it’s written to celebrate the humanity of each person: their joys, hopes, hobbies, passions, who they cared about and what they worked towards. We purposely leave out details of their deaths to remind readers that many media reports about such murders, although vitally important, focus primarily on how the people died rather than how they lived. And how they lived is crucial to remember. It’s crucial to remember as we work towards a more just culture and system. It’s crucial to remember because they were good people, and good people don’t get enough credit or celebration in our social media-fueled, sound bite-driven society. 

Good people don’t get remembered enough. But being good is worth remembering, and being good is enough.

Of the people featured in “Remember Them” almost all of them had friends or family talk about their goodness. A friend of Kimberly Fial, who volunteered at Grace Baptist Church, said his heart always felt warm when he saw her. A friend of Chyna Carillo said that when he was around her his world would light up. And an employee at the Trans Wellness group in Cleveland said that Tierramarie Lewis always gave kindness.

These are incredible things to be remembered for. They’re not flashy, and they’re not going to get a million likes on social media, but we would all be lucky if we were remembered for things like that. Such contributions to the world — contributions of kindness — often go unnoticed beyond a person’s immediate friends and family. But they are as valuable as any scientific breakthrough or peace negotiation or memorable work of art. And to be honest, we should view them as more valuable. Because without kindness that we give to and get from the people we love and respect, we have nothing. No community, no friends, no family.

Kindness should be our starting point, and if we’re lucky enough, it will be our end point as well.

So, if you remember anything from the people in this week’s feature, remember their kindness, and how important it is in this life. Remembering that truth is one of their many gifts to us.