I was angry, more angry than I should have been. It had been a very long, frustrating winter day trapped inside with a teething toddler and a true-to-the-name threenager. There was a mountain of clean clothes taking over my bedroom. If I didn’t fold it, I don’t think we would’ve been able to walk in there! So I sat and folded and folded and folded and folded and folded. Folded clothes were placed in laundry baskets, which were quickly shuttled to my bed away from toddler hands. It took me over an hour and a half to fold all those clothes. And while I was putting some of it away in another bedroom, my threenager, high on kid energy, dumped out the clothes I worked so hard to fold.
“WHAT are you DOING?!” I yelled.
“I don’t know,” she replied with a sassy smile that clearly said she knew exactly what she was doing.
“You saw me folding those. You watched me fold those. Why would you do that?!”
“I don’t know,” she said feeling a bit more guilty.
“I can’t do this right now. Just go to your room until I’m done with the laundry, please.” Starting to cry, she went into her room. Once I had finished, I went in to talk with her, like always after she’s been punished. I usually explain what she did wrong and how it makes me feel, and I remind her that no matter what I still love her. I was midway through the spiel when she asked, “Mommy, do you still love me?”
“Of course I do. I will always love you no matter what, but I don’t always like your behavior.”
They say when you become a mother, you discover this overwhelming, pure love like nothing else. It is a fierce, strong love that can withstand the storms of teething, hurricanes of tantrums, and tsunamis of sass and attitude. It takes a beating everyday with screaming, disobedience, stubbornness, and this love never even flinches or strays from the course. They can scream they hate us, their words can cut at our hearts, but our love is unbreakable, indestructible, unchanging. To love despite adversity is true love. Anyone can love someone during good times–that’s easy. But when the storm clouds roll in, that’s the true test of love. And our society is desperately lacking that love.
Our culture values love and tolerance, both noble qualities. But not enough people are truly reflecting them. Part of my job involves curating articles on the internet to share on different Facebook pages I manage. And if I’m honest, I’ve seriously thought about quitting because I am so sickened by what I see and read. I’m angry, really angry. And I’m so, so, so heart-broken, and I’m scared for my kids.
I was appalled at the way the internet treated the dentist, Walter Palmer, over the death of Cecil the lion, unnerved by the reactions towards the mother who’s child fell into the gorilla exhibit, and I’m downright disgusted by the comments being hurled back and forth from both sides in the wake of the shooting in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in our history, and I can’t even talk about Philando Castile yet. Has the world lost its damn mind?! Is this who we’ve become? Is this the world we are raising our kids in? This hate needs to end NOW.
As I lie in bed at night and feel the weight of current events pressing down on my chest, I think, “We have to do better! We have to change! What hope is there in the future if we continue down this path?! How do we stop this hate?” I don’t believe the internet is the source of hate. I think hate is a seed in the hearts of men and women, and if tended to, it will grow. If starved, it will die. But I think the internet can be a greenhouse of hate. It can take people who disagree and turn them into blood thirsty monsters. We don’t need terror groups to hate us, we’re doing a pretty good job of that all on our own. Replace words with guns and we’d be in a civil war. One major reason for that is because our society, the melting pot built on diversity, can’t handle an opinion/belief different than their own. People take on the opposing view and verbally crucify them. What if our kids talked like that?
“Sally, you used purple paint instead of pink for your unicorn picture? Wow, your mom must have drank a lot while she was pregnant with you. She probably doesn’t love you. You’re nothing but an idiot. You and your purple paint is what’s wrong with our society. You’re a second class citizen and your life is worthless.” Would you let someone talk like that to your 5 year old? …10 year old? …15 year old? How about 20? Is it okay for someone to talk to your kids like that when they’re 25? At what age does it become okay to bully another person for being or thinking differently? Because adults are doing it. All. The. Time. Respectful discussions have been replaced by internet bullying or digital torture. Because if you disagree, people will research and dig into your life with the hopes of destroying it. We’ve fallen from civil to savages, and we must do better!
If we can admit that it’s wrong for our kids to talk like that, can we also admit it’s wrong for us to talk like that, especially since they’re watching us? Looking up to us? A reflection of us? If we want to stop the hate, we have to set the example in all areas of our lives, including the internet. If you put hate out, it will only grow exponentially, but love can conquer hate! I want better for all our kids, so I’m imploring you moms, let’s start truly loving each other, even when it’s hard, even when we disagree. We are the experts at that love.
Love is a verb. Anybody can say they love anything, but love without action is useless. If you truly loved, you’d do. One way we can show love to others is by showing them respect, just good ol’ human decency. Because the other side isn’t full of hateful, ignorant jerks.
We are all victims to our own experiences and knowledge, and from that we build our opinions and beliefs. For example, if someone has experienced divorced via their own parents, their own relationship, family or friends, they may believe that marriage is a bad idea. Another person having experienced happy marriages may believe it’s a great idea. If you asked them both whether or not you should get married, they’ll tell you based upon their own unique knowledge and experiences. That doesn’t make one person an idiot and another a monster. And it doesn’t mean that because one is opposed to marriage they’re somehow shaming the other who is in favor of marriage. It just means they have different opinions based on their own experiences/knowledge.
Politics, religion and cultural movements like Black Lives Matter, gay rights, gender equality, etc.– think about how nasty both sides get with the other, and the insults hurled at each other. On more than one occasion, I have seen people comment telling the opposing side to shoot or kill themselves. And then we’re surprised when shootings do happen? Are we really wondering what’s fueling that hate? Hate begets hate. Hate will not win more people to your cause, it will not justify your opinion or belief, it will not make ANYTHING better. But love can.
How would you react if I said I supported Trump? Hilary? Bernie? Is there an anger bubbling up inside you towards me? How could I be so stupid? I must be a hateful, bigot, socialist, Christian, liberal! I probably hate all races, all genders, all religions, and puppies! Nope. My opinions and my beliefs are based upon what I’ve experienced and the knowledge that has been shared with me–same as you. But if you want to sway my opinion and my beliefs then build a bridge. Tell me about your experiences and why you believe what you believe, and I will respectfully share why I believe what I believe and maybe we can find a common ground where we can understand each other and respectfully discuss the obstacles we have towards the opposite belief.
Because if you spew hateful remarks–”That’s so ignorant! You’re so close-minded! God hates you!”–you are not only spreading hate like a virus, but you are burning down any chance of peace or progress. Personally, the thought of sitting down and listening to the other side share their opinions on politics makes my blood pressure rise, because I’ve seen and heard them hurl insults towards my side of the issue. Why would I give them the time of day? Because I have to, we have to, if we want to be society that truly embodies love and tolerance. We must surrender and lay down the HATE, and arm ourselves instead with love. I’m not saying to compromise or falter on your opinions and beliefs, but tolerate others’, which by definition is, “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” That means not pounding another person into the ground like a whack-a-mole game because they disagree with you. It means let it be, or respectfully and lovingly discuss it. Because what’s the point in pushing your opinions and beliefs and “winning” if in the end you’ve created more enemies and advanced more hate? Have you really made the world better, or just better for you?
Stop fighting, stop hating, and start discussing, start listening, start respecting, start loving. Start seeing people as people, and not monsters because they look, sound, act, talk, think, or believe differently than you. And let’s realize that none of us are infallible! We are all capable of doing wrong, and we have all done wrong. We’ve made mistakes–in parenting, in relationships, in the things we say. It doesn’t make us monsters, it makes us human. Admitting wrongdoing is one of the most freeing things you can do! Saying, “You were right, and I was wrong. I’m sorry,” can diffuse many intense situations. If we can admit and forgive our own faults, it makes it much easier to forgive others of theirs, and isn’t that what we would want others to do for us?
Hope for a better future for our kids starts with loving others today. It’s realizing that we aren’t perfect ourselves, being open to change, listening and understanding others. It means loving others by seeing them as people, showing them respect, and forgiving them the same way you’d hope they’d forgive you. Another opinion isn’t always an attack, it isn’t shaming the opposing view, it’s diversity. It’s what makes our nation great!
So mamas, as a society, let’s start loving each other with the same love we have toward our kids–a real love that endures both agreement and disagreement, a tolerance that respectfully allows for differing opinions and beliefs without compromising your own, and a forgiveness that we would want to receive ourselves.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Strength to Love, 1963