“Darkness cannot drive darkness; Light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; Love can do that.” – Martin Luther King (1963)
Today I filled out my ballot for the upcoming primary election in June. Looking beyond the candidates, looking beyond the issues and petitions, I see hate.
Nope, I’m not going to talk politics (I promised, remember??). I couldn’t help but be struck, however, with many a candidate’s position being based on hate, distrust, prejudice, and fury. We’re told there is much to fear and hate in our world, that falsehoods and danger lurk around every turn and that opposing candidates are sure to screw things up further. That coupled with recent racially motivated shootings and disastrous activities shows hate becoming an all-consuming part of our lives. There has always been hate in the world, but the amount of hate is expanding and overcoming our better judgement, our compassion, our love and concern for one another, and is becoming a dominant component of what some are teaching their kids.
A powerful tool against the Whack-a-Mole activities of hate, which is popping up here and there, was a powerful speech by Mallory McMorrow, a lawmaker from Michigan who spoke before her state senate in opposition to the power and prevalence of hate. She spoke of the millions of Americans who are exhausted and fading under the weight of what is going on, not only in politics, but in our schools and in social media feeds. War is not just happening ‘over there.’ It is happening right in our own backyards where people are maligned and mischaracterized and put down for one thing or another. As she says in her speech, not on her watch will she be silent about how hate is crushing us all. It’s a virus, a powerful illness that doesn’t represent the majority of Americans. You can see her impassioned speech here.
Shine Your Light
There’s that delightful saying about “what you focus on grows.” It’s true. Do you think, “I’m not hateful. I am kind, compassionate and helpful.”? Well, the news is that if you merely repeat the hateful acts and hurtful words spoken and reported upon, you’re shining your light on hate, thereby perpetuating its growth and development.
If we’re going to survive and improve the years ahead, it’s up to us to not only shine the light but to call out those who use hate to demean, bully, and misinform. It’s up to us to speak out in support of vulnerable populations and to speak out against oppression of any kind.
Yes, Mallory McMorrow is a politician, but she speaks for all people. It’s up to all of us to be role models of patience, compassion, and acceptance. We start in our families and with friends and expand from there. As Margaret Mead said many years ago, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Don’t let hate grow on your watch.