I’m somewhat at a loss.
I’m not sure if I should write on this subject given the amount of words that have flooded social and print media in the past few days, and yet there is something that is pulling me to say what is on my mind.
It’s a challenging conversation that requires all of us to take a long hard look at not just the world around us, but also at ourselves.
Waking up on Sunday to news of another act of horrific violence left me awash in sadness once again – feelings of heartbreak for victims and their loved ones and first responders and the LGTBQ community and quite frankly the whole fricking world. And then other emotions began bubbling under the surface – frustration and irritation and anger.
And rising up through those feelings was this question:
What is wrong with people?
Which really means…
What is wrong with some people?
Although perhaps that’s naturally the question we ask in response to actions we don’t comprehend, is it really the question that should be foremost in our minds?
In addition to whatever way this last event touched your heart, I’ll bet there was also the seductive pull to think about the disagreements you have with some group of people on any of the issues related to what happened.
As a Canadian it’s easy for me to climb up on my soapbox and point fingers at “those Americans and their gun loving second amendment”. But that response is the essence of the problem. Looking for ways to separate ourselves from others only serves to deepen the divide and legitimize an “us vs them” mentality that is at the heart of most of the world’s challenges.
Looking for what divides us is never the solution.
In accepting a Tony award for his performance in Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda recited a beautiful poem in response to the events in Orlando. At its heart was the message:
Love is love is love is love.
And then the opposite must also be true:
Hate is hate is hate is hate.
In all its forms.
We tend of think of hate in its extreme – outrageous acts of vengeance and violence like the one that just happened.
But hate exists on a continuum.
It begins with the need to be right.
The idea that my thoughts, opinions and beliefs are somehow more right than yours – that you are somehow wrong because you think and believe differently.
It begins with disrespect.
Small, seemingly insignificant actions, that demonstrate that I see you as not worthy of my time or attention or respect.
When horrific events are played out on the world stage, we place our attention on complex issues like terrorism, racism, bigotry, or misogyny and we become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem.
We forget that the germination of these issues begins in our daily lives – in the small actions that we are willing to tolerate in ourselves and others.
Hate does not spontaneously explode.
It grows insidiously through silence and apathy.
Of course, tolerance, kindness and respect are easy when applied to those we love.
Not so easy when we encounter ideas that are in opposition to the ones we adhere to.
But that’s exactly what we need to do.
To create space for differing perspectives, to look for common ground when there doesn’t seem to be much, to work for shared values and goals – that’s the conversation we need to have. And one of things that is fundamental to this conversation is quite frankly to get over our egotistical need to be right all the time.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not suggesting that if we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya that somehow all the world’s problems will magically go away.
I’m suggesting that in order for it to survive, hate in all its forms needs a place to take root. It needs a refuge.
Without conscious attention and diligence in thought and action, we are complicit in allowing hate to grow. We provide that safe haven when we engage in disparaging comments about other people, other ethnicities, other cultures, other sexual orientations, about anything that is not what we are.
Each of us chooses, consciously or unconsciously to either grow love or grow hate.Each one of us chooses consciously or unconsciously to either grow love or grow hate. Click To Tweet
When we participate in inflammatory debates on social media, by reading or commenting, we are part of the problem.
Or when we engage in gossip
Or tolerate bullying in schools and workplaces
Or rush to judgement without having all the facts
Or disparage a different way of thinking
Or flip off another driver in traffic
Or walk past homeless people like they are invisible
Or think civility is just political correctness
Or are too busy to spend meaningful time with our loved ones
In little ways we begin to make hurtful actions and words okay. Once that happens we make the downhill slide to hate okay.
With all my heart I believe people are basically good. We just get sloppy and lazy and distracted by insignificant things that we make far more important than they need to be.
Edmund Burke once said:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Every day each one of us has an opportunity to let love triumph instead.Every day each one of us has an opportunity through thoughts and actions to let love triumph instead of hate. Click To Tweet
Will our daily actions make terrorism go away?
Will it hasten the passage of common sense legislation?
Will it begin to create a world in which hate no longer has a solid foothold?
I believe so.
Prayer and positive thoughts are wonderful things. But my very wise mother used to say:
Pray and row for the shore.
What she meant by that is it’s fine to pray for things to change, but while you are waiting for change to happen, take action.
Get up every day and ask yourself:
How can I help love triumph today?
It’s the collective actions of all of us that will change the world.
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