These are angry times. These are hate-filled times. They are perilous and rocky, but none of this is new to us or our generation. History is doomed to repeat itself, and it is only through error that we continue to think any of these feelings are new. They are unique to our period in their expression, but they are not new. History has shown us that as a population grows comfortable with certain rights and privileges, we learn to ignore the small acts of oppression and hate that threaten our own comfort. We grow complacent to the growing monster in the shadows – the monster that feeds on our small hatreds, our division and distaste, until we fan the flames and the fires of inequity and of our creation grow.
And so we, in all our human frailty, confronted with the monster of our own making, we look to our differences to assign blame. It is the poor man’s fault. The stupid. The racist. The privileged. And we wrap ourselves, still, in our otherness, our betterness, and still do not see that the very thing that caused this mess is preventing us from fixing it: hate.
All those little acts of ridicule and division led us here. We swept the impoverished out of sight; we shushed the people of color as they told us things were not right; we ignored the news that showed the depraved conditions of laborers abroad while wearing the clothes and eating the food that were brought to us by slaves; and we ignored the reports of the bombing, death and starvation of thousands because it was, after all, so far away.
Hatred for our fellow man is still hate. We cannot combat hate with hate. To quote a wise man, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” And yet another wise man said, “‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world…”
I am still angry and I will not apologize for the honesty of my feelings. But I am making room in my heart to turn that anger into something different. Something that (hopefully) heals, rather than harms. I am weak. I am fallible. I am corruptible.
I am human.
As much as we fight it, we will hate. We will rage. We will say the wrong thing at just the wrong time. And we, in our hypocrisy, will feel like we are right. We will fall and feel the shame of all of our failures.
But maybe, just maybe, we’ll also learn to say just the right thing at the right time. Maybe, just maybe, we will remember that we are all under this sky, breathing the same air, walking the same earth, and that we have so much we need to fight for – together – rather than fighting each other.
I have faith that we can do this. That we can learn – again – what it means to look at that stranger, shrouded in difference, and find a way to hold our hands out in friendship.
So, as we walk in these dark times, I say this: I choose hope. I choose hope over hate. I choose hope over fear. I choose hope over anger. I choose hope over the desolation that hate has brought to my soul and to this world.
This hope is not a shield to protect myself from the ugliness of the world. No, this hope comes with the resolve that I must never grow complacent again. Hope is active thing. It is a commitment. Hope is an act of love. If we love something – truly love something – we care for it. We honor it. We protect it.
Build your hope. Build your love. Build your resolve to stand and say, “Enough is enough – let this hatred end.” Stand up to hate – all hate – and fight it. Recognize it for what it is. Report it.
Hope is not an easy thing to hold onto – but I will hold onto it. I believe humanity – and this world – is worth the salvation that it can bring.