The idea for The Kin Project bubbled up slowly over the shit-show that was 2016. The results of Brexit and the US Presidential election convinced me that I really needed to do something; to take my own personal little stance against the extremely ugly sentiment those two political events exposed.
No matter which way you voted, both Brexit and the US Presidential election revealed that a divisive, racist, misogynistic, "us vs. them" mentality is pervasive across the globe. The confirmation that hordes of people really think like that horrified and exasperated me. It seemed so ignorant and counter-productive, like we were slipping back into medieval times.
It's just... we're all human. We're all kin. If aliens invaded planet earth tomorrow, and they were evil pricks who just wanted to harvest our organs and plunder our planet's resources, we'd all be on the same team, right? Male, female, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, African, Chinese, American… hell, even the English and the French - we'd all come together to fight those tentacled, three-headed bastards from planet Zogor.
So why can't we come together now? Why are we talking about building walls? Why are we tearing each other down and apart? I mean, Syria. Really??
Can we not do better?
Syria was another "inspiration" for The Kin Project - though that word seems completely incongruous with what is happening there. That heartbreaking photo of three year old Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach? My daughter was the same age as him when he died. Can you imagine how atrocious the conditions in Syria are to make a parent feel like clambering on board an old boat in the dead of night is the better option??
I want to round up the greedy morons responsible for this nightmare, bash their heads together and tell them to sort this shit out. This is not acceptable. People's babies are dying. But I can't. All I can do is make yet another donation to some overworked charity, which just feels like putting a band-aid on a bullet hole.
The racism, the xenophobia, the greed, the ignorance - so much ugliness. I wanted to do something to offset it.
I've read Barbara Cooney's book, Miss Rumphius, to my kids dozens of times. It's about a young girl who tells her grandfather that when she is grown, she wants to travel the world and then live by the sea. He tells her that there is a third thing she must do with her life - she must do something to make the world more beautiful.
I think everyone should start to heed that very simple instruction. The rhetoric from so many political leaders revolves around furthering their own interests and ignoring the plight of the rest of humankind. It's all about grabbing as much as you can get even if, A) You don't need it and, B) It means screwing over everyone else.
Where is that sense of social responsibility? Where's that very basic decency of everyone looking out for each other? Is it really that hard to just not be a dick?
The chief aim of The Kin Project is to get people to do something - anything - to make the world a better place. If you'd like to join in, pick a challenge and start today.
Author's note: It's 2020 now. And I thought that 2016 was a shit-show...