It must be exhausting to hate anyone not like you.

That would pretty much mean you hate everyone, right?

Or does someone who hates enough to harm a person just choose the reasons why they are different…like their skin color.  Their accent.  Their favorite team.  Their sexual preference.

So, you hate everyone who is polka-dotted.  Because they are polka-dotted.  And that’s enough.

But you also decide you love everyone who is paisley.  Because after all, all paisley people think just like you, right?

Oops.  

Maybe not.  Have you considered you might more in control with the polka-dotted person than the paisley person?

Wow.  Gosh, could that paisley person—the one who agrees with you that all polka-dotted people need to go—what if he or she turns out to have something in common with polka-dotted people?

Now what?  Again, do you just hate everyone?

Could it be mutual hate isn’t the personality trait you should use to choose your friends?

It’s so easy to watch news clips of people in other places acting stupidly and shake our heads and sigh and then go back to our lives.  After all, it’s not us.  It’s not our neighborhood.  It’s not our friend or relative.

Or is it.

If we aren’t speaking up, our silence is saying volumes.

If we aren’t shining the light on such massive ignorance, we are just as guilty.

If we let a friend, relative, spouse or anyone else joke about running down a crowd of people and waving nazi flags, we might as well have been there ourselves.

It’s hard.  People we care about often have very different views of the world.  Fear and ignorance are everywhere.  Refusing to be silent when it seems vulgarity is a value can be lonely.

Many boomers and beyond know too well what happens when fear and hatred take over.  Anyone who thought differently in the 1950s risked losing their careers if someone accused them of being communist.  Millions died in WWII because their eyes weren’t blue enough for a mad man while the world watched.  Lynchings and church bombings and horror raged through rural America when people fought for their human rights.

And only a few each time truly stepped up to say no, this is not right, we will not tolerate this.

Let’s stop a minute.  Breathe.  And look around.  Can we make a difference?  Can we try and diffuse some of the rhetoric?

Or at least not join in it?

I want to believe that most people, in their heart, are basically good.  I”ll confess lately it’s sometimes hard to hang onto that belief.  But here’s a thought:  maybe a few times a day, just sit quietly and send out thoughts of love and acceptance to the world.  Imagine it spreading like a giant wave across the globe.  And where you can, be nice to someone.  Do something unexpected, like tip a lot more than you might normally. Smile at someone on the street.  Thank the crew that picks up your garbage.   Help an elderly person get their groceries to the car.

It may be tiny. But if it’s an act of kindness, it could grow.  And grow.

And before you know it, it could turn hate into peace.  And wouldn’t that feel so much better?

 

“Happiness can only exist in acceptance.”

      George Orwell

 

 

 

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