Go Beyond Division – Be the Love You Want to See in the World

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I’ve watched a ton of video clips from the protests/riots, and I’ve seen it all – a retied black cop bleeding out in the street due to black looters shooting him for trying to protect a store. A white cop pushing a white woman so hard to the ground he almost killed her. Looters fighting with protesters. Looters attacking cops and store owners. Crates of concrete chunks conveniently set up on the sidewalk for anarchists to destroy buildings and property.

We have a hatred problem, period.

I spoke with a friend in Pakistan the other day and she told me they have these types of riots frequently and there are always foreign entities stirring things up to hurt the country. Whether it’s from the inside or out, there is more going on here – due to the numerous videos of conveniently placed bricks – so just be aware of that. This is all a set up. For what or for whom, I can’t say. Try not to let emotions manipulate you.

Except, that’s the problem. Our entire system right now is set up to emotionally manipulate people. Both sides do it, the right and the left. The media purposefully inflames things to promote specific agendas. I know someone who writes for a top conservative website. He told me that he specifically tries to rile people up since it gets more traffic. But both sides do it.

Remember, it was just 2 weeks ago we were told that rogue business owners opening up their shops were a dire threat to humanity? That red state people partying in the Ozarks are the epitome of evil? That churchgoers who wanted to open back up churches were selfish and stupid? But now crowds of thousands protesting – not just once, but daily for a week, aren’t a problem?

See the double standard here? See how one side was painted as devils, and the other as saints?

It goes beyond this. We can blame the media for manipulating but we also fuel it.

So I was explaining to my Pakistani friend the deep divisions in this country. It’s more over ideology than race in my opinion. And it’s worse – a deep disdain for people who don’t think the same way, and a tendency to treat people as disposable. This runs across the board and these divisions have penetrated into families and friendships.

I said to her, my guess is that in your country, when friends or family disagree over a political issue, they may argue and get heated about it, but are loyal and never break up the relationship.

Not here. Friends will drop you like a hat – not just over politics but any sort of perceived slight or insult, even if unintended. They won’t bother to tell you why – they’ll just leave. Think your high school friend will still love you no matter what? Just tell them that you support (insert politician they hate) and watch them turn on you viciously and never speak to you again.

THAT is hate. It’s not love, and it is this atmosphere that trickles into everything and poisons the discourse.

I myself was a victim of this back in 2007, when Sarah Palin was nominated as McCain’s VP. I knew nothing about her – nada – I was simply excited, from a feminist viewpoint – the gender barrier had been broken in the Republicans. I was moved when she was nominated and cried.

Soon after, a good male friend of mine for 10+ years called me up and left, quite frankly, a disgusting sexist message about her, basically calling her a bimbo. When I messaged him in return saying how excited I was that a female was a VP for the Republicans, and this meant progress, he unfriended me in an email. He told me he refused to talk to Republicans and only bothers with one Republican cousin due to his being family. He would not to talk to me about it, even though I emailed him back and said I had not become a Republican.

That, my friends, is crazy. It’s hatred for no reason that goes beyond the bounds of decency. And yet, daily, I see people who purport to be on the side of “love” waste endless, ridiculous amounts of energy focusing on hating the enemy instead of focusing on positive solutions.

I had basically considered myself a liberal/progressive until that fateful day when my friend tore my heart out and showed me that politics was more important than my humanity. I’ve seen politics turn into a cult and it scares me. People who aren’t in the cult are ostracized and presumed to be evil.

This sort of thing never ends well.

So now, I’m getting email newsletters in my inbox from people who should stay out of politics – from healers and the like – extorting us to vote for Biden in November since that will solve these problems.

I hate to break it to you, but it won’t.

It’s super easy to get excited and join a protest – it feels powerful and exhilarating. And you can black out your profile or put up a sign in your lawn to support a cause. But that’s superficial.

If you want hate to end, you need to start with yourself. You don’t open hearts and minds by demonizing and dehumanizing the other side, for starters.

Get out and actually HELP people. What can you do? Well, there was a team of yoga teachers at my old yoga studio in Austin who started a program to train prisoners to teach yoga. Get creative, be bold!

THAT actually makes a difference. But waving a sign for a few hours and then going home and never volunteering, never donating money, never doing anything but bitch when Trump comes on your screen, that won’t help much at all.

Be nice to people, stop unfriending people for thinking differently, try to look at things from another perspective…and actually BE the love you want to see in the world.

Peace out.