There is so much hate in the world today. People spew hate regarding presidential candidates, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It is prevalent in the form of comments on the internet specifically.
I am not educated on what I am about to discuss. I am just speaking from the heart and voicing my view. Some words that I will associate may have actual terms.
I believe that there are two types of emotion. The first, which I refer to as “raw emotion” is when a person cannot control their reaction. For example: when a person learns of the death of a loved one, they cannot control the fact that their heart rate is increasing, they begin breathing faster, they start shaking, and possibly begin weeping. They are overcome with sadness and have no control over it.
The second type of emotion, I believe, is a choice. This would be when a person is not personally effected by an event and makes the decision to have an emotional response. For example: someone says “I think the Hebrew language looks like gibberish. I don’t understand its alphabet.” A person in the group who is Atheist and does not relate to their distant heritage hears this, decides they are offended and says “That’s anti-Semetic. My Great Great Grandmother had ancestors from Israel. You know nothing about their struggles. You should be more sensitive.” In this situation, the person saw an opportunity to be offended and took it.
Now on to the point.
Imagine that you are walking down the street. You see an elderly person struggling with their grocery bags. They are obviously overburdened and a bag falls to the ground releasing a dozen items which roll away on the sidewalk. Naturally, I hope, you would run up and assist with this debacle. Of course you would. You’re a good person as most of us are. The elderly person thanks you and you offer to assist them by taking some of the burden. The walk is about 10 minutes and during that time the two of you chat about all sorts of things. They tell you about their grandchildren and you discuss your profession. The two of you laugh and connect. They even remind you of your own grandparent. In the back of your mind you hope that someone would be so kind to your grandparent in this situation. You reach your destination and the two of you share a hug and say goodbye. Both of you leave this situation with fond memories of a pleasant connection and an overall warm feeling.
Later that night, you are winding down. You turn on the television and open your laptop to catch up on the news and social media. You come across an article regarding the current political candidates. The article favors one party and insults the party that you stand behind. You look to see who posted that article and it was your cousin. You and your cousin have a great relationship. You just saw them during the last holiday and the two of you spent the whole time together. You grew up together and have seemingly infinite fond memories together. You, however, decide to be offended by this. You look to see who all in your friends list “liked” the article and you unfriend all of them including your cousin. No more lengthy Facebook chats about the family and how things are going. No more sending each other funny videos and laughing. All because you decided to be offended.
Now you’ve moved on to an article posted on the web site of your local newspaper. The article is showcasing a local business person who happens to also be Transgender. In the comments section under the article, a person writes: “I don’t understand where all these transgendered came from. When I was growing up, there were none. Why did everyone decide to just now start doing this?” You go nuts. You can’t believe the intolerance, and hate in that comment. You think “It must be some back woods redneck asshole.” You type a reply to that comment which reads “I can’t believe that in 2015 there are still uneducated assholes like you around. Fuck you. Learn some respect and show some compassion. You’re the reason that there is so much hate in the world. Transgender people have always been here. ”
The truth, which you will never know, is that the person behind that comment was your elderly neighbor. They grew up in a small town of 500 people. News of Stonewall and other similar events were not broadcast there. The struggles of the LGBTQ* community were not discussed or known there. The comment made by your recent new friend was not filled with hate, it was due to ignorance. It was a great opportunity to educate.
If you were to read an article from a trustworthy source that reads “Night Elf Gladfar Williams Elected New City Official.” You would say “Since when are Night Elves a real thing?” It would shock you if you found out that Night Elves had been around forever and everyone knew but you. The truth of the matter, however is that you didn’t and that’s ok but now you do and it’s time to educate yourself.
I went off topic. The point is this: We all have the ability to get along. We like each other when face to face. If we think about it, I think most of us will agree that many of the times that we are offended it’s because we made the decision to be offended. We all have different religious and political views and that’s fine. Be grateful that we live in a nation where we can have a friendly debate with each other on why we think our candidate is the best. Think about who may be behind the screen of an internet comment. Don’t assume that the person or the comment is full of hate. Lastly, take any opportunity that you can to educate. Love one another.
*Note: I am attempting to write using only gender neutral pronouns. It’s ok if you disagree, but I think that it is better this way (unless referring to a factual person whose preferred gender pronouns are known.)