**I'm writing this because I'm sad. I know it is full of cliché stereotypes - specifically chosen because I know that's how the majority of people will resonate and connect with what I'm trying to say. I hope that you don't get caught up in the examples and jargon I chose and can see the enveloping message of kindness and love. None of these words are meant to be offensive or isolating. However you identify, I just want to show you love. I want you to show your own love. And I want the rest of the world to show you love as well**
My heart is heavy. My outlook on life is a little bleak. I'm slowly losing the small bit of hope and optimism I've been trying to cultivate. Hate is winning guys. And I'm terrified.
Collectively and generally speaking, American's thrive on hate. Hate of religion, race, politics, and class. Hate of anything that isn't our own. Hate of anything different. Hate of concepts and ideas we don't understand. Hate of anything that we feel threatens or challenges our own identity and existence.
We hate people we've never met and probably never will meet. We hate celebrities across the spectrum - certain singers, actors, comedians, authors, writers, and athletes. We hate families like the Kardashians and sports teams like the Yankees (or we secretly love them and just tell everyone we hate them - which is just as bad). We hate Tom Brady and Tom Cruise and probably a million other Tom's. Heck, we hate companies like Tom's. We hate designers, creators, and innovators. We hate people trying to open minds. People trying to change the status quo. People trying to express themselves. People who want to be different. People who want to be their most authentic selves. People who want to help others be their most authentic selves.
We hate the people around us. Growing up, we begin to resent those that make us insecure. And not in a bully kind of way, but in a way that's unjustified and a little irrational. An insecurity that builds from envy, of wanting to be better, of unattained potential. We hate the "teacher's pet" who consistently goes above and beyond expectation. We love to hate her, annoyed with her for trying so hard, making the rest of us look bad. We hate the most popular guy on any given sports team. Wondering what he has that we don't. Hating him for the attention he gets over throwing, catching, or hitting some kind of ball. We hate cliché social groups. We hate the nerds because we know they're most likely to succeed in this ever-changing, technology driven world. And to be honest, we hate them for being smarter than us - for understanding challenging concepts more easily than us. We hate the artists and musicians because we find them different and weird. We hate their taste in everything creative. We hate their sense of fashion. We hate their sarcastic wit and humor. We hate the preppy goody-two-shoes. The honor and AP kids. We hate the slackers. The burnouts. The troublemakers.
We hate everyone.
Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.
It's a four letter word so readily available. Always on the tip of our tongues, ready to jump out and attack. Hate wants to bite. It wants to rip others apart. Tear them down. Hate feels like a solution. It bonds groups of people. It forms a tie, more like a handcuff, seemingly strong, yet so weak. Because you see, hate is afraid. Hate is scared. Hate is a crutch, keeping us from changing. From growing. From evolving. Hate aims to trap you in a box, eh, maybe more so it traps you in a cell. Trapped with only more hate to keep you going, feeding off negative emotion and thought, which gives you energy to preserver. Hate is a fire, fueled by anger and resentment. Hate wants to keep you fuming like a small flame, taking in anything negative it can find. Negativity is the oxygen building that flame. We cultivate more and more of it, causing our flames grow bigger. Unknowingly growing until suddenly we are consumed, unable to see anything but the fire swallowing us whole. We feel the warmth from it, it beckons us to stay even longer. The longer we stay in hate, the harder it is to leave.
But just like fire, hate can be extinguished. We feel so chained by the handcuffs of hate, we forget there is one simple key to freedom.
Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.
Another four letter word, yet so neglected and abandoned. There are songs, stories, and poems, written about great love that was never spoken of. "Tell those you love them while you have the chance, before it's too late." We don't talk of hate that way. Imagine if we did? Using your last words to tell someone you hated them. Your last breath burning with the acid of hatred. How terrible would that be? What does that say about the way you lived? Love today is seen as shameful and embarrassing. You see kid's getting taunted at school for their versions of love. Young adults feel foolish for caring too much. Since when is caring too much a bad thing? Since when is an excessive amount of anything positive a bad thing? When did it become popular opinion that not caring is the way to be. We're told indifference is ideal, that empathy and sympathy are pointless and stupid.
At the age of 25, most of my friends are at the points of engagement and marriage. I've attended a plethora of weddings in the last few years. And every celebration is the same. We are told that "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
You hear that? Love. Never. Fails.
And it doesn't. Love is not what's failing us. It's our lack of love that is. Our lack of compassion. Our lack of open-mindedness. Our lack of sympathy. Our lack of trying to understand. We need to start letting go of hate and all the things that come with it, myself included. For years my catch phrase was a general sigh of "I hate people" and/or "People are the worst." But I don't want to think that way anymore. Or at least I don't want that to be my knee jerk reaction. We all know there are going to be bad people in this world. People that bomb buildings and train stations and the finish lines at marathons. People that shoot at mass crowds at a country concert. People that shoot up schools and universities. People that practice hate on a more "humane" level - people who gossip and bully and want to bring others down. But I want to believe that those people are severely outnumbered by those that practice love.
I want us all to take a moment to reflect and think about what is really important in our lives. Right now it seems like news and media streams are full of issues. Race issues. Religious issues. Class issues. Political issues. Gender issues. But at the end of the day, don't they all boil down to issues of equality and issues of simply being human - issues that stem from a lack of respect, understanding, and love? I want us to think of how we can practice a sort of marriage-like-love with the rest of the population. I want us to treat others the way we treat those who mean the most to us. Or at least I want us to give others the chance to love them. I know that seems very "hippie" and probably out of touch. But I don't care. Imagine a world where we simply loved each other. Not because a religious deity told us to, but simply because it's the right thing to do...
I know this isn't a matter that can be simply resolved. I know it's going to continue to take years. More lives are going to be lost. More sadness and tragedy is going to occur in this world. It's inevitable. But maybe we can start looking into the light. Maybe we can start stripping ourselves of bias and judgement. Strip ourselves of pride and anger and envy. Maybe we can remember we are all just humans trying our best. Maybe we can remind ourselves that we are all just sons and daughters of the people that came before us. We are all humans. And we all deserve love.
Yes. All of us. Especially those that hurt us. Unpopular opinion, but I choose to believe that if they were shown more love throughout their lives, maybe they wouldn't have resorted to such violent means. So lets nip this in the butt and start loving everyone now...
I hope to one day live in a world where love is the norm. Why is it only in tragedy that we show each other such love? Why is it only after the worst, that the best of human kind shines through? If I ever have kids, I want them to grow up in a world of good, not just a world where good exists some of the time. A world where such loss has to strike in order to give us all a wake up call to what's really important in life.
This past weekend showed us there are still terrible people in the world, capable of unthinkable things. But more importantly, it showed us the true power of love. Story after story is emerging of the true heroes in that crowd. Heroes practicing the concept of "loving thy neighbor." Strangers protecting one another. Strangers trusting each other. Strangers who projected hope in the darkest of times. Strangers who pushed each other to make it through such a horrific event...
Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres.