A Kinder World

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Linh H
Member since August 9, 2017
  • 3 Posts
  • Age 21

Credit: Adi Goldstein

Credit: Adi Goldstein

Currently, the world seems to be in a chaotic and turbulent state; with threats of wars and hate crimes making headlines on an increasingly frequent basis. I am sure, that like me, you cannot help but wonder how the world has come to this. Why is hate so prevalent in our society? Is it encoded in our DNA to be hateful, or are we merely a product of a hateful society?

This debate has been going on for decades; despite all that, I believe human beings are not hateful by nature. Children are not inherently evil. However, as they grow up, they notice how hatred is normalized or inflicted upon people - including them - and learn to be okay with hatred. When hate is returned with hate, a never-ending circle is created. Contrary to love, hate possesses negative energy; therefore, it manifests itself in negative and extreme behavior such as acts of violence towards fellow human beings.

Just over one year ago, one of the most horrendous crimes in human history was committed at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. On this night 49 people were killed. Most of the victims were members of the LGBTQ+ community. In the aftermath there was a lot of speculation about the sexual orientation of the killer; and it still remains unclear whether he was motivated by internalized homophobia and self-hatred which could be a direct result of living in a bigoted, homophobic society. However, it is unarguable that his horrendous crime was prompted by homophobia. I believe the idea of homophobia is not inherent. Children do not grow up homophobic by themselves. Rather, they learn to be hateful by witnessing the normalization of violence perpetrated against gay people.

It cannot be denied that we will always have differences in opinions, lifestyles, etc. There will always be issues that we cannot agree on collectively. Diversity can be wonderful but it can also be infuriating when two ideas clash.

I remember one time when I was 13, I was watching TV with my mom and there was a gay couple holding hands on the screen. My mom hissed and started making homophobic comments on how homosexuality was unnatural and a sin. A huge fight could have taken place because I was young and hotheaded. However, for unknown reasons, all of a sudden, I did not feel like making a fight out of it. All I said was, “They love each other, just like you love dad.” A moment of silence followed. After that day, sometimes we still talked about the LGBTQ+ community and to my surprise and delight, her homophobic comments started to fade with time.

One day after the Orlando shooting, we were watching the news and at some point, she looked baffled and asked me, “Can people just live?” As amazing as that was, a part of me knows my mother will be upset if I ever come out to her. She will disagree with my life decisions but I also know she will not interfere in my happiness and that is enough. The truth is, hate is within all of us but how we respond to it is what determines the ultimate outcome. Hate breeds hate and tolerance fosters love.

In an ideal world, people accept each other. However, the world we are living in does not function that way. Acceptance goes beyond tolerance; but often, before learning to be accepting, we have to learn to be tolerant. After all, with all of our differences, we need to figure out a way to coexist in harmony. Two years ago, I had a conversation with a gay man that completely changed my view on acceptance vs. tolerance. He said, “I don’t care if people don’t accept me for who I am. I don’t need them to be accepting but they have to be tolerant. As long as we don’t infringe on each other’s rights, we’re fine.” Tolerance is healing as it allows people to be vulnerable without fear of judgment. It is also the key to enlightenment as it cultivates acceptance and understanding of the diversity in people’s experiences.

While learning to hate does not take long, learning to counter it does. However, it is not impossible. Since hate is fueled by intolerance and fear of the unknown, start there. Embrace change, embrace diversity. Tolerance can be learned from little things such as reading books. Books explore the different lives of different people and through books; empathy can be built up, which eventually allows space for tolerance to grow. Meditation can also help nurture tolerance. By learning to identify sources of negativity, you learn to navigate towards positivity, to be patient and tolerant where necessary. Drive hate out of your heart. After all, a heart that grows dark with hatred cannot reflect light; therefore, it cannot radiate love.

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