So they're not like you. Can you love them, anyway?
Before I even open this up with a nice, flowery sounding lead-in paragraph, I have to just come clean. I can be a dumb jerk sometimes. Some human interactions can really test my resolve to be loving. Some days, I feel like I'm winning and other days, I totally blow it. If you already know this about me, please don't disregard the message for the imperfection of the messenger. It's a part of myself I'm committed to improving and as is the way with personal growth, sharing and learning often happen simultaneously.
Now for the elephant in the room. We seem to have developed a nasty case of hate-fever. Symptoms may vary in intensity and may include:
Name calling ("sheeple", "pigs", etc.)
Shaming (mask shaming, race shaming, wealth shaming)
Public bickering (Facebook much?)
Prejudice of every kind (ie "all African Americans" or "all police" beliefs or statements)
The message that's been swirling around in my head this past week is: Can you love them, anyway?
I like to think of myself as someone who has grown to be fairly tolerant. I rarely feel the need any more to label others as "wrong" or attempt to change them. At some point, I came to believe that every soul is exactly where they are supposed to be on their path in this moment and that growth situations and timelines are unique to the individual. I've also learned that if we all have the same 100 lessons to learn, they don't necessarily happen in order. If I were tempted to feel superior, having completed the first 20 lessons before my neighbor, I might be surprised to find out that though he seems to be stuck on lesson #4, he's already mastered lessons 60 and above in a way that I have yet to.
Doesn't that all just sound so pious and enlightened? If we are being honest, don't we all feel proud of how allowing and gracious we think we are? Then the rubber meets the road when someone's differences seem to threaten us. Annnnnd.... then it all goes to hell.
There are those that lash out when they see others not wearing masks or social distancing. They truly fear for their safety because they believe there is a highly contagious and deadly pandemic and that their safety is being threatened only for the sake of someone else's convenience and selfish disregard for others. On the other side are those who have a strong belief in a "Plan-demic", intentionally engineered and exaggerated in order to usher in a New World Order in which we are stripped of our our personal liberties one by one and our sovereignty is trampled; that to believe in the narrative and to comply is like being the frog in the pot of slowly boiling water. Each side may also sincerely feel they have done the research and seen the evidence to support their belief.
There are those that enjoy the comfort and versatility of their large SUV's and believe that their use is not harmful to the planet and that the supply of fossil fuel is not a concern. They fear a system in which law-makers and celebrities are exempt from the restrictions they wish to impose on the masses. Others fear that if restrictions are not implemented, our earth will suffer greatly from continued use of these and other large gasoline-powered vehicles, leaving it unhealthy for future generations.
So many issues these days are lined up, just waiting to trigger our fear responses. Carnivore or vegan, firearms or not, black lives or blue lives, Democrat or Republican, gay or straight, Muslim or Christian... All of the battles we fight over these differences stem from our fears.
What would happen if we acknowledged that an overwhelming percentage of the things we fear never actually harm us? What if we took a big gulp of courage, rolled up our sleeves and committed to the sometimes dirty job of loving people anyway?
What if, when somebody's Facebook post triggered our fear, instead of acting out in that fear, we mentally affirmed something about them that we appreciate and love and gave THAT our attention, instead? What if, when feeling disgusted with someone else's behavior, we instead looked below the surface to find understanding and to see them as a diamond disguised as a lump of coal? What if we got in the habit of asking more questions of those we disagree with? Not the type we usually ask, designed to cleverly back them into a corner in an attempt to change their mind, but asking from a sincere desire to gather more information and understanding. What if next time a friend or family member behaved in a way that hurt or disappointed us, we refused to see it as a personal affront and instead allowed for the possibility that they are fighting inner battles we know nothing of and we focused on the traits we appreciate in them?
Like I said, I have not mastered this, by any means. My husband will chuckle here and remind me of the guy at the restaurant that I wanted to beat up just two weeks ago. And the friend I was snippy with a few days ago is also reading this with an eye roll. And they would be right. But I can only move forward, right? And so can you.
What if all of us in our glorious, beautiful diversity and different beliefs made unity a priority? What if we quit trying to change people (which is impossible, anyway) and just appreciated the good in them? I believe that prioritizing unity is what will ultimately save the human race from destruction. Our safety cannot be bought with the kind of currency we've been using (shaming, naming, bickering, violence, etc).
I'll even go out on a limb and say something that sounds a little "out there". I believe there are forces that DO wish to destroy the human spirit, if not the entire human race and that every time we act out in ways that are based in fear (hatred, intolerance, anger) rather than in love, we are actually fueling that machine and furthering its dark agenda.
Let's turn this ship around. I know we can do it. Anybody on-board with me? I believe we can do it.
Cheers to the human race!