How can we be grateful amidst so much hate?

As the winds of change blow through and through, we look around to others and social media for what to do. Caught in the cross-fire of justice and hatred, we each have our own opinions and passion for what we believe to be just and true. When we feel slighted some will rise up and fight. Some may lash out at those whose views stand in direct opposition to our own.

I propose we set our sails into the wind and avoid the craggy shore of the “Alcatraz” of hate and predjudice.

I have been quiet for fear of offending and being subjected to criticism.

I can remain quiet no more.

We all have freedom of speech-freedom of choice.

We do not have to agree.

I am going to share a few opinions that may be in direct opposition to your own.That is a risk I am willing to take. I am not going to discuss political right or wrong  nor where I stand on the spectrum.  I will, however, say my position and perspective, is much the same as the late Martin Luther King Jr.. He fought for justice but was careful to come from a place of love, not hate. He has so many poignant quotes on how to address conflict. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend. We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
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MLK Jr. Quotes
I could write a thousand words and pack it full of quotes of this great man who fought so valiantly for human rights and dignity of the human soul.
His last quote, “What are you doing for others?” to me, is about personal responsibility. It is not about selfish gain nor retribution and justice. It, ultimately, is about being grateful for our own blessings and liberties, and using our resources to help others.
Not everyone wants or needs help. But I propose that everyone wants and needs love and acceptance. We need to be the change we seek. We need to share love.
As we roll into the holiday season, of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I take pause to look back at all I have been blessed with:
Freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. I am healthy and have more resources than I need– a home, love, a brain, sobriety, faith, and the capacity to forgive. I am blessed with family and friends who love me and  have been able to share their joy as my kids become responsible mature adults; everyone of voting age in our family exercised their right to vote. I am also filled with laughter as my stepson makes goofy snapchats and provides levity to our home to lighten the mood when we occasionally get bogged down in the day-to-day grind of work and responsibility.
I am grateful that I can skim past most of the propaganda and crap circulating on Facebook and other social media. I do my best to sift through the layers of crap, however, I often bristle at how freedom of speech and choice has driven a wedged between friends. I pause when something rubs me the wrong way then feel energized to do something about it. By holding true to my own beliefs of justice and equality, I choose to exercise my freedom of speech and write about it.
My stance is, and likely will always be, what can I do to be part of the solution and not the problem.
My answer is this-love people, where they are even if their view differs from mine.
This is challenging especially since most of my life I have been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, uninformed, arm-chair critic. If I didn’t agree with something someone said or they did something different than what I thought was th “right” way, I would do it, I would speak up; often very loudly and in a condescending way.
I see far too much conflict and spite being slung around on Facebook. People getting worked up about partial truths. It has become increasingly difficult to separate fact from crap. All I want is the truth and justice. Cut the bullshit.
I am not immune to falling into this trap and am guilty of getting worked up over stuff that I have very little information about. Sometimes I will pause and look at something more objectively, but that is a rarity. When I consciously do step back, I can’t help but wonder if there is a powerful force at work instigating division among us all; a force in direct opposition to unity and peace.
Regardless, I get sucked into the fear vortex; worrying about a series of what ifs.
I agree, we need be mindful of being stripped of our liberty and freedom. But I also have a personal responsibility to get the facts straight before getting all worked up over a series future-tripping fears.
Please do not discount what I am saying as being opposed to those who choose to fight for justice. I want justice, but more than that I want the truth.
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” MLK Jr.
What I am saying is that when we are fighting each other as to who is right or wrong, we lose sight of the problem, and in effect, perpetuate it.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” MLK Jr.

 

By coming at the challenge with hate and not love, we will NEVER  find peace.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” MLK Jr.

Do not get me wrong, I am just now beginning this process. It takes a concerted effort to hear “both sides” of any position. It does NOT mean I have to accept to agree with the opinions of others. It just means that I have to be mature enough to listen.
I am blessed beyond belief by a large group of friends who are looking to solutions and getting their voices heard and doing so peacefully.
I also have a group of close friends who I can count on to lift me up when I feel down. I have a wife who lives me unconditionally. I have dreams and goals and  hopes and dreams. Many have already become a reality, like writing and publishing my first book, Beyond Recovery A journey of Grace,Love, and Forgiveness. Beyond Recovery
I am eternally grateful for those who’ve gone before me and those who choose to rise above hatred and yield a sword of love in an effort to maintain and further promote peace.
I have dedicated my life into the service of others and, if in some small way, this piddly blog helps to light a fire under your own ass, then go out there and love someone. I guarantee you will feel better.
Love, Shawn

2 thoughts on “How can we be grateful amidst so much hate?

  1. Thank you , Shawn. I understand where you are coming from. I am pretty vocal about where I stand. However, it does not come from a position of hate, it comes from anger and fear.
    The beginning of your post talks about blessings….freedom of speech, freedom of religion. There are many of us who are terrified that those inalienable rights might be taken away.
    While there may be multiple “sides” as to the best way to improve the economy and trade deals, there is only one side when it comes to hate, bullying and bigotry. Anyone that feels it is ok to have a Muslim registry, or place swastikas in public places or to terrify elementary school children about “building a wall” at a Hispanic immersion school… sorry, but that is plain wrong. I cannot sit idly by without calling out what is clearly wrong and I believe immoral.
    We have been blessed as well as cursed with white privledge…we simply cannot discount the fears of others because they are not issues for us.
    I am very thankful for the many blessings in my life and do my best to share that with others, but I will not go quietly into the darkness.
    Much love to you and yours…

    Like

    • Bridget,
      Thank you for being willing to speak up. People are angry and rightfully so about the threat of losing rights.
      Bullying and racism, and misogyny et al are character defects which I was not raised to embrace.
      I was taught the golden rule and grew up communally where we had to share and show compassion for each other; you should read my book, because I talk about all that…

      What bothers me is two fold: First, the continued division of “us” and “them” and secondly the blatant lumping together of certain views of Christianity as described in one video that was recently shared, as the norm and that anyone who is a Christian is a “Trump” supporter and in bed with the devil. Honestly, that is as wrong of a generalization as all the mud that Trump has slung. It is not true.
      My position is to learn to stand up for what I believe in and to accept that others have their own opinions. Yes, I am afraid of what will happen. But I also know that living in fear will not solve any problems. Nor will continued spite and opposition. All that does is create more strife, separation and division.
      A house divided cannot stand. I sometimes feel that we are on the cusp of either a huge revolution or civil war. I am watching events unfold as I am sure our parents did in the 60’s.
      This may sound completely whacked, but perhaps Trump’s election may have happened for a reason; to further unite a country divided and comfortable by “white privilege.” to motivate to action and to tear the veil away from complacency and apathy for humanity’s sake. I cannot say for certain.

      I am tired of the lies, the grandstanding, and the amount of pandering and corruption in our political system. Sometimes I feel like we are all being played. But I am a fighter and will survive. I always have. It is my very nature to persevere in tough times.
      Worry and fear are what have gotten us into the mess we are in now anyway; Terrorism, cyber attacks, etc. all designed to keep us in a perpetual state of fear, but not too much because that would spell disaster and pandemonium. I could go off for hours on this, but instead, I am trying to be pragmatic. What is the problem? What can I do to be a part of the solution?

      Fear and pain create a need for protection, vaccinations, medications, escape. Big companies leverage our fear, and profit from it. So does our government and political system.
      I choose to not be ruled by my fear. It paralyzes me. Everyone can choose how they want to be a part of any change. My choice is to act in love and kindness. That doesn’t not mean I don’t get angry, I do. It’s just that anger clouds my objectivity and I end up doing stupid shit when I am only acting in anger. I am very glad that you wrote a response and hope others find their own path to become a part of the solution.

      We have a constitution and it is in place to protect us from Tyranny. No one man can take that away.
      I hold out hope that by doing our part to stand fro what we believe in and being kind to one another that that will begin to be replicated and create a peaceful world.
      Anger is OK, hate is not. Only love will bring peace.
      Thank you for caring enough to talk about it.
      Best to your family.
      Shawn

      Like

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