So. Much. Sadness. So much pain. So much hate. Everywhere. All of the time.
At least, that's what it feels like lately. Unfortunately, it's hard to claim those statements to be untrue.
I'm going to be honest: Writing about what is going on in the world today is a difficult thing for me to do right now. I like to keep my little corner of the internet a place that is dedicated to acceptance, growth, and love. With all that is happening around us, it is, personally, hard to find ways to talk about those things as of late.
But, I firmly believe that whenever you are scared of doing something, that is usually the best time to do it. So, here goes nothing.
Let's try and find some light in all of this darkness.
I have not been a fan of the news for a long time now. I believe the media thrives off, even perpetuates, the sorrow and pain of others. I do, however, believe it is important to stay informed on world events. I read articles and gather information on my own terms. It's worked out well for me so far.
I am informed rather than saturated with the many misfortunes of this world we call home.
But, lately, it is more difficult to avoid being completely consumed with the pain that surrounds us, near or far. No longer can you just shut off the news channel, but you must sign out of your social medias, drown out the many negative discussions in public places, and—worst of all—avoid speaking to some people altogether.
In some ways, it is a good thing that we can no longer turn our cheek to the hurt that is in this world. In other ways, not so much.
For some reason, adults have yet to figure out how to have a mature discussion on a topic in which both parties disagree, while still agreeing to maintain a level of respect for the other's opinion AND person.
Is that too much to ask? According to the history of, well, EVER, yes. Yes, it is, unfortunately too much to ask.
While listening to these disagreements, whether it be on the news, in public, or in homes of those I know, I hear a lot about "they". And, let me tell you, THEY are assholes. THEY need to get out of town and quick! A LOT of people are upset with this group called "they".
THEY are going to ruin this country. THEY don't understand. THEY are going to hurt my family. THEY are going to help the wrong people. THEY should do something about this. THEY are going to change our laws. THEY are going to leave the laws the same. THEY. THEY. THEY.
Sheesh. I am so glad I am not one of them.
But, wait. Maybe I am? After all, who exactly are "they" anyway?
That's the problem: "they" are different to everyone.
I am sure I fall into some categories of others definitions of who "they" are.
I believe in Jesus Christ, I question why God does what He does, I am a white and free female, I believe in women's rights, I am not married, I am a registered republican that can see the point in some democratic views, I believe anyone that wants to get married should have the right to be married—regardless of gender, I believe there is no one more brave and deserving on this planet than the men and women of our military and they should be treated that way, I believe the pledge should be recited in school every day and that God has a place in our classrooms, and most of all—if it does not bring harm to others—I believe in ALL of us believing in whatever it is that we damn feel like believing in.
OK. After that, I am definitely on someone's "they" list.
The sad part about all of this is that, after rattling off some of those "fun" facts about me (which took courage on my part to share), some reading this will look at me differently.
Some will like me more. Some will like me less. Some stopped reading a long time ago.
Guess what? That's okay with me. I am still going to be true to who I am AND respect that you are, well, who you choose to be.
Here's the thing that makes me different from them: I don't believe it is a "they" that is destroying us. I believe it is an "it."
"It" is hate.
Hate has as much capability of entering our homes as love does. It's just our job to decide for which we are going to open the door.
A few nights ago, I was watching my nieces and nephew play outside with my sister. They laughed and ran and squealed so carelessly. They didn't need us to create their happiness for them, it was already there. But when one of them got hurt or upset, they looked to my sister and me immediately for relief and comfort. We are experts at fixing what's wrong and healing what hurts in their eyes.
Suddenly, my heart sunk.
I felt an overwhelming amount of sadness for every parent I knew.
As parents, you can help heal a cut on a finger or ease the pain of a stubbed toe, but what about all of the hurt that surrounds us in this world today? How are they going to put a Spiderman band-aid on all of that pain? How in the world do they explain such horrific, malicious events to such innocent and bright faces? HOW??
I pitied them. Every mother and father that came to mind. My heart broke for every look of hurt and confusion on their child's face. For every "why" that they couldn't find a reasonable way to explain.
Then it struck me: What about when I have children? What am I going to do and say?? Having to watch my nieces and nephews and friends' children is painful enough!
Do I even want to bring a child into this world?
I thought about it for a moment. So many people, young and old, have said to me that they wouldn't blame me for choosing not to. That this world is no place for bringing in someone you unconditionally love. It's filled with hurt. It's drowning in sorrow. It's infected with hate.
Maybe I didn't want to bring a child into this world. After all, how could I possibly protect them from ALL of those terrible things?
It was in that moment, during that thought, that I realized I was letting "it" win. Hate was the victor in that mental conversation. I had cracked open my door and let it's fingers creep right in.
I came to my senses and slammed that door shut. I wasn't going to choose hate. It is my job to let love in. Even if it is a little late to my doorstep. I'll wait up all night for that guest.
You know how I am going to protect my future children from all of those things? I'm not. You know why? Because I CAN'T.
We give them life but, guess what? Life hurts. SO badly, sometimes.
I can no more protect my child from getting shot while on their first date at a movie or at a concert with friends or eating out while studying abroad than I can from their first knee scrape or heartbreak. If you are breathing, you are going to end up hurting. It is the chance we all take.
I know there are precautions a parent can take, and I plan to take them as long as I can. I will teach them everything I know that has worked for me while encouraging them to live their lives so that they find out what works for them.
I will protect them as much as God will allow me. I will cry when they turn five and worry when they first drive and lose sleep when they break curfew and call every night when they travel and scold them when they are being more true to others than themselves—I will do all of these things and more. But, what I will not do is hinder their lives by never giving them the chance to have one in the first place.
Whenever you intensely slander someone's name in front of children because they do not agree with you, hate wins.
Whenever you stop speaking to or respecting someone you care about because they think differently, hate wins.
Whenever you choose to not carry a life inside of you because you carry a heart of fear instead, hate wins.
Whenever we stop choosing to create beautiful lives because the world we live in can be so ugly, hate has defeated us all.
Choose love instead.
Keep your beliefs. Hold tight to your convictions. Stand up for what you believe in. Carry your faith proudly.
But—please—for the sake of those innocent faces that are already here in this mess (and the ones that may come), leave a little room for love while you do it. Save a seat for understanding as you sit to pray. Clear an area for compassion when you show up to fight your battles.
It is in that space, and only in that space, that they will ever have the chance of creating the beautiful lives we hope and dream they will one day have.
They are the "they" we should be concerned about. So, let's give them a fair chance of choosing to let love win by letting it in ourselves.