I don’t know how to love. I love many things and a handful of people but I’ve found an inconsistency that so far I cannot reconcile. At first I thought it was other people, not something I do but something that only the other sides do. It barely mattered which side I was on, it always seemed more correct then whichever was the opposing side. Sometimes the choice was arbitrary like the time I worked as a security guard and found that my job was to keep a bunch of hippie-types away from a Shell oil drill. I’d come home from work and tell people about how silly it seemed to me for them to do what they did, it seemed so misguided. Weeks earlier I might have had a conversation about how bad the Shell corporation is for the environment, I would have felt totally justified in saying that they shouldn’t be allowed to do what they do. Still despite caring whether or not the earths ecosystems are destroyed I protected an oil drill and felt totally fine about it.
Something changed recently, my priority for love. I had been letting love sit on the back burners for years, it just seemed as ethereal as smoke. It hadn’t been a great friend to me and so I left it in the category of “I’ll deal with you later”, the same place I’ve put all the pieces of life that were too big for me. Now I feel capable of picking it back up and giving it a closer look. Spreading love in the world has become my highest priority.
One of the first things I learned is this crazy way many people including myself have of being okay hating just as long as its the bad guys they hate. I think most of us believe hate by itself is harmful but sometimes we are too close to notice where we’re standing.
And here’s the part where I talk about Donald Trump’s campaign. I’ve been noticing lately that I don’t know how to respond out of a place of love when it comes to the prime example of Republicans vs Democrats. How do I react when I am faced with someone I disagree with? How do I respond when someone says unfounded, hateful things about people I care about? It is a kind of violence to attack someone with words, its a bloodless assault that can easily leave deeper scars than the physical fight could have. It is real.
I’ve seen many loving people be offended or outraged by Donald Trump’s words and then I’ve seen many of those same loving people belittle and attempt to shame Donald Trump. I have done this, I have empathy for this. I can understand why I’m not the only person who has been upset but the problem for me comes in when I try to decide how to act oppositely of Donald Trump. I can’t stand by my actions if whenever I hear hateful, offenses I return the attack. I don’t believe in that anymore but I haven’t yet found my answer to this circumstance.
Not to say that I don’t believe in fighting or in avoiding violence at all cost. I think nearly all possible actions have uses, sometimes the use is just to enable the opposite to exist but still that is important. I wouldn’t call myself a pacifist. I wouldn’t say that returning a verbal attack is wrong even, its just not what I’m choosing for myself. I don’t want my only option in response to hatred or violence to be a violent reflex. That’s what it often is, feeling some anger and then saying something or doing something intended to harm someone else or justify my own anger. It has made me angry many times the way Donald Trump talks and then it even makes me angry the way some people seem to listen. I feel outraged that this is possible and ashamed that Trump’s voice can be any part of the voice of America. I know what other countries think of the US, its not always high praise I hear. So I’m angry and that could lead to more hate or more love.
When I say hate I mean it in very general terms. I mean being willing to harm someone in some form of attack. I mean being willing to disagree with someone simply because of who they are. I mean seeing someone as evil, inferior, or separate. I mean to hurt someone without knowing them or their intentions. Usually the word hate sounds like an intense dislike of something or someone, this sounds very general, but the connotation we associate to hate is more then this. I don’t strive to like everything, I strive to allow myself to enjoy more aspects of life, to be grateful for and appreciate more. This definition of hate is pretty general but still this is where I’ll leave it for now.
I’ve heard Donald Trump say something hateful and then I’ve told someone he’s an idiot. This bothers me. It seems awfully hypocritical for me to be angry with someone for making a hateful comment and then for me to respond by saying some belittling comment of my own. My verbal attacks aren’t founded, they aren’t anything more than reactive, anger based opinions. This isn’t how I want to behave.
So far all I can figure is trying to find ways to be thankful for Donald Trump. I stopped trying to make up opinions about how screwed up he is and started focusing on the possible positive benefits of his campaign. The way he’s led me to care more about this election, how his campaign has shined an interesting light on the American people and how he has given an incredible example for so many people to use in efforts to increase understanding.
I don’t know how to react better than this at the moment. This one example in the US election process is not the only example, there are so many places I see this cycle of hate and violence multiplying. It feels very real to me and I have no answer but at least now I’m thankful for the rich opportunities to choose love over hate that are presenting themselves all around me.