I started my day with a Facebook kerfuffle. That’s bound to happen these days. We are more and more invested in our opinions, our right to them, and our false sense of moral superiority, no matter the side or issue.
And it’s no wonder. We are inundated with twenty-four hours a day of “news” and “information,” when really, it is more often judgment, bias, and opinion cloaked as news and information.
I came out in favor of free speech, and you wouldn’t think that would cause such a brouhaha in the United States of America, but these days, our states aren’t that united, nor are the people who inhabit them.
We are an angry people, now. Divided. Isolated. Scared.
We are the bullies and the victims, and no one is safe, anymore.
I could feel my blood boil as I read post after hate-filled post, and I thought of all my possible responses, with equal and greater disdain than both family and friends seemed to have for my defense of two comedians.
I stopped myself from engaging further. And I was sorry I had said anything at all. Not because I believe in free speech any less. I don’t. I support it. Even the free speech I might find offensive, in poor taste, or morally reprehensible. I think artists, writers, and comedians are our last line of defense. They not only provide the last bastion of sanity in an insane world, but they speak truth to power, and there is no time in our history when that was needed more than right now.
But all this is neither here nor there. I stopped in my tracks, because we bandy about Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” like we actually have a clue what he was talking about or have ever actually done it ourselves.
So all this anger, my own included, only begets more of the same. And all this struggling to be heard by having verbal altercations on social media is a desperate cry for our presence to be known and valued. And I think there are better ways to do that.
We don’t know what being the change really is until we silence our desire to spew vitriol and offer something resembling kindness and compassion instead.
Bill Maher and Kathy Griffin have both apologized publicly for their poor choices. But no amount of apology seems enough to garner people’s forgiveness.
So I want to know what is. What will it take for us to offer anyone our forgiveness?
We proclaim ourselves to be a great nation, but who are we if we can’t forgive a person who is apologizing to us?
Where is the love in all this?
How do we turn our backs on each other and claim patriotism? What is our might – either individual or collective – without mercy?
What does being victorious look like in this new America?
Love is not some genteel word from a bygone era to be paraded out at whim. The kind of love of which I speak is neither weak nor naïve.
It speaks to our better angels instead of our baser instincts. It offers us an opportunity to override our fears in favor of a better outcome than we’ve seen thus far in history. And it is the only thing that will ensure our future.
Love is the ultimate warrior. It does not surrender to the shifting tides of public opinion. It holds steadfast within it the possibility of lasting peace and transformation from a world of utter separation to one of unity.
So it is necessary, not frivolous to ask where the love is, because the answer to that is the one worth pursuing.
Every one of us plays a role in what this world looks like. Every one of us holds within ourselves the power to change it.
Who and what do we want to be?
Me, I’m going to think twice about future Facebook skirmishes, because I realized today that if I was asked, I’d want my answer to be, “I’m the love in all this.”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I really hope you’ll join me.