It’s tempting to blame. Some people blame the liberals, some blame the conservatives, some blame the media.
I notice that especially over the last few years I’ve developed a habit of laying blame as I scroll through the news on my phone.
I find it’s all too easy for this blame to turn to frustration, anger, fear and even hate.
I’m trying to claim this realization as a wake-up call. You see I know hate. I know what hate does.
When I was born, I came a few weeks early and surprised my folks in the middle of the night. Luckily for us, my mom and dad have very clear heads and got us to the emergency room quickly. But in the process my umbilical cord got kinked and I developed a pronounced speech impediment and some coordination uniquenesses. A medical professional would label my condition “cerebral palsy”.
By the time I reached seventh grade, I had developed a profound hatred for what I said and how I said it. I had even more hatred for what I did, and how I did it. But no amount of hate topped the intense hatred for the fact that I was me.
Who was all this hatred coming from? A pack of mean, vicious seventh grade bullies who wouldn’t let me have a moments peace?
NOPE, there was only one mean, vicious bully in my life: He had a speech impediment and every time I looked in the mirror, I saw his acne-ridden face.
In the midst of all this hatred, I did the only thing I could think of doing. I attempted suicide.
Fortunately, at that moment a voice within me spoke out and said suicide wasn’t the way and it got my attention. I made the biggest call of my life that day. The call for help, the call to stay alive.
That day I realized in my bones that hate can kill.
Lately, I recognize that I’m capable of hating those who don’t happen to share identical political views as me.
Unfortunately, hate isn’t healing. Hate doesn’t convince the person whom the hatred is directed to stop hating. We as humans have a brutal and agonizing history of wars where hate was met with hate, again and again, until millions of people lay dead and millions more spent the rest of their lives suffering.
Hatred on a very intimate, personal level almost killed me. And hatred on a collective level can kill masses of people.
It’s tempting to justify hate, by saying I’m right and they are wrong, so I hate them because of their wrongness. Back in seventh grade, I was dead certain that I was right that my speech impediment and coordination problems and acne were irredeemably disgusting. I felt exceedingly justified in hating them. I didn’t question it.
I don’t have a clean and neat solution for any of this. In fact, I have more questions than answers:
How do we send love to those we disagree with, even though we strongly feel some of their choices are wrong?
How do we love in a way that doesn’t enable bad behavior?
How do we love in a way where we encourage each other to be our best and brightest?
The only way I found to end the violence I was inflicting on myself in seventh grade, was to call for help.
But who do we call? My solution in seventh grade was fairly simple, to call my parents.
But who do we call during this time in history that seems so darn tumultuous? I believe that it is time to call on everything within us that wishes to heal the world, that seeks to love thy neighbor, that knows we must love ourselves. I feel that only from this place, might we navigate a way through all of the confounding questions facing us externally.
We have so much temptation to choose hate, and yet so much power to choose love. The quality of our own lives and the lives of the people around us depend, to a large degree, on which we choose.
It’s complex being human. The best we can do is our imperfect best.
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