To my liberal friends. I love you. I am on your side. I want justice for Sandra Bland. I want equal rights for all of us, regardless of gender, gender identification or sexual orientation. I’m genuinely happy to see the Confederate flag removed from official government properties. I want less gun violence and support mental health background checks for those purchasing guns.
However, what I’ve seen in the wake of some of our greatest strides forward, and with our demands for further progress is an undercurrent of intolerance, and in some cases downright hatred. There’s definitely an unwillingness by many to see things from the other person’s perspective. I think many (liberals and conservatives) have fallen victim to Groupthink, due to the nature of social media that allows us to fine tune who we choose to engage with.
Please consider Martin Luther King Jr’s words, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. These are words to live every single day by, not just black history month. These words should not only apply to those that share your opinion. They should apply equally to your perceived enemies and to those who have wronged you. I don’t claim perfection in this regard by any stretch. I am constantly reminding myself to live this way. It is not an easy thing to do in the face of hostility, ignorance, and fear. Having compassion and empathy for those who have wronged you does not mean that you allow the wrongs to continue or allow them to go unpunished.
Speaking from experience, the times when I’ve grown and evolved the most as a human, without being forced with threat of death, imprisonment, injury, or financial loss, were the times when someone listened to my darkest shameful secrets and said to me “It’s okay. I still love you.” It is usually when we feel safe and supported that we can really look at those darker parts of ourselves and really get to the bottom of them. To not be ashamed of them, but simply to recognize them. It is then that we can start the process of bringing light to those dark areas that are often the result of a past abuse or wrongs that have been committed against us.
So please remember this when seeking to deliver justice for Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, Cecil the lion, any of the countless other victims of racial profiling and police brutality, or for the victims of many recent mass shootings.
To both my liberal and conservative friends: remember this when you think about posting some one-liner joke on Facebook that uses negative/hurtful words to describe those that do not share your opinions. Usually such one-liners only result in further dividing us and making us more extreme and intolerant toward one another. Eventually we hide the posts from those we disagree with, further separating us into groups of like-minded people with an intolerance for anything else.
Remember to always bring your side dishes, compassion and empathy. Leave your hatred behind. We can absolutely seek justice and change while being civil and empathetic in the process.